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Super soph Franck establishing herself among SWMO's premier players

NIXA'S SHAELEE FRANCK controls the ball in the middle of a trio of Ozark players.
NIXA'S SHAELEE FRANCK controls the ball in the middle of a trio of Ozark players.

From the very start, Shaelee Franck took to soccer naturally and with unabashed enthusiasm, no matter the result.

“My parents put me into (soccer) when I was 5,” Franck said. “My first game, the score was 2-1 and I scored all three goals. I scored for the other team. But I was really excited about it.

“That’s when my parents knew I was going to really like soccer,” she added.

Fast forward 10 years and Franck is on pace to eventually challenge Nixa’s career goals record. She has followed up netting 21 goals during her freshman season a year ago by collecting 15 goals midway through her sophomore campaign.

The Lady Eagles’ standard is 93 career goals, held by 2017 grad Alex Johnson.

“I'm trying to beat it,” Franck said. “I have goals every season for scoring a certain amount of goals. I’m trying to accomplish those goals."

Franck certainly didn’t rest on her laurels from a year ago. She worked over the summer, fall and winter to make herself a complete player, adding increased speed to go along with her exceptional strength.

The dynamic forward was already prominent in battling for control of 50/50 balls and now is also winning chases for a loose ball.

“Her speed has gotten a lot better,” Nixa coach Evan Palmer said. “Last year, there were times the defender would get the ball ahead of her. Now, she's getting to the ball most of the time before the defender. We've seen great improvement in her straight-line speed and she's agile enough that she changes directions well.”

"My strength helps and I've gotten a lot faster,” Franck said. “I think it's helped me a lot. I can beat the defenders back almost every time. It makes me more confident.”

Franck has also earned a reputation as an elite passer. She helped Nixa beat Kickapoo 2-1 by assisting Bria Smith for the winning goal on a perfectly-placed corner kick.

Franck has dished out eight assists this season, after having 10 a year ago.

“She's become a scorer and more of a set-up person, as well,” Palmer said. “I love how this year, her assists are almost up to what she had last year. This year, she has become a more complete player, finding her teammates. Her movement off the ball has been great. She's good at a lot of things."

Not even halfway through her Nixa career, Franck has to be mentioned in any conversation regarding SWMO’s premier players.

“I’m establishing myself, or trying to, at least,” she said.

Palmer had high hopes for Franck prior to her freshman year, and she’s met or surpassed those expectations.

“We knew it was possible,” he said of her immediate success that warranted an All-COC Second-Team selection last year. “It’s hard as a freshman, but she figured things out and the seniors from last year took her under their wing. Now, she’s blossomed into the player we see today.”