There are people you meet during your education who can change your life. Chauncey Franks is one of those people.
The chaplain for Texas Christian University’s football team, Franks also oversees the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) ministry at TCU. He began serving with FCA in 2004 and came to TCU in 2010. Franks’ role at TCU is to guide his athletes not only on the field but also in their lives outside the locker room. He serves as a mentor in the process of finding students’ identity which be quite daunting. College students often have a hard time adjusting and finding their purpose on campus, and Franks is there to be a voice of encouragement and to teach them to trust that God is there for them.
A native Texan originally from Lockhart, Franks knows all about great barbeque, fishing, and sports. He played football at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls where he also earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. His wife Danika is the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at the TCU & UNTHSC School of Medicine. They have three children: son Eli and daughters Eden and Elle.
As a veteran player, a collegiate character coach, and a Black man, Franks has gathered what he calls “Lessons from the Locker Room.” He shows his athletes how engaging with teammates and hearing their life experiences can build a healthy environment for tackling complex and deep-rooted issues like systemic racism.
Chauncey’s impact on his students may start in the locker room, but it goes far beyond the field and stretches all throughout their lives. The lessons these students are learning are valuable and could help us all in learning to love, embrace, and build relationships with everyone around us.
Lesson One: Learn
Learning history is critical. Understanding how we got here helps us to better understand why we are where we are. Use every resource available. Books, articles, podcasts, and movies can impart a historical understanding. These resources are crucial to have an appreciation of what people of all colors and races have contributed to this country.
Lesson Two: Listen
When we hear a political debate, it’s easy to jump into our political “lanes” and start talking without listening. If an individual is telling you their story, it may not be your experience and it may be difficult relate to, but it is their reality. While these stories might be uncomfortable to hear, the importance of listening to someone talk about their story is crucial to understanding where they are coming from and what they have been through.
Lesson Three: Love and Build Relationships
Franks says, “I’ve been telling people if you can love an individual on the football field or sports field for three hours, you can also love… and fight with them for issues that are affecting them throughout the rest of your life.” He relates how a white student once reached out to him in tears. She told him that outside her parents, Franks, a Black man, was the person who had the greatest impact on her life. She wanted Franks to know that she loved him and his family and that she wanted to be part of the solution to systemic racism.
Franks says to reach out to people who are different than you and build relationships with them. Listen and learn about their lives. Form a genuine bond with someone whose life has been different from yours. This will help you better understand and love them.
Lesson Four: Lead Out
On the field, the leader is the one in the huddle who not only gives the play but gives encouragement to make sure that the plays are executed well. In life, leaders look for chances to serve and encourage others. Look for opportunities to volunteer and get involved in your community. Find ways to connect with people of different ethnicities in Fort Worth. Franks believes food, music, and sports bring people together and suggests finding ethnic restaurants, concerts, and sport events to expand your horizons. Don’t be scared to ask respectful questions.
Franks shares a quote from the late Representative John Lewis: “What is the purpose of a nation if not to empower human beings to live better together than they could individually?” We live in a collective reality but have built enormous barriers between ourselves and our fellow human beings. Every small interaction we have with another person, if we engage with an intent to listen, hear, and accept their lived experiences, breaks down these walls and moves us forward.
Angela Weaver is a native Texan, raised in Keller, but she got to Fort Worth as soon as she could. At 17, she joined the Marine Corps and served four years active duty. After her military service ended, she went to work for a hedge fund and then a whiskey distillery, both in Fort Worth. Her most important role started in 2009 when she became a mom. She loves to spend her time with her boys outdoors getting the full Boy Mom experience, even if that means being covered in dirt, catching fish, or shooting BB guns. She loves the sense of community she has found in Fort Worth and can’t wait share that with our readers.