Franklin College women’s basketball team has a special fan base of which few other schools can boast.
Each home game, the Grizzly Grandparents demonstrate what a loyal following is. Decked out in matching gold spirit T-shirts and faithfully positioned behind the Franklin bench, they encourage the players, yell cheers, and even work the game officials, albeit in a good-natured way.
The Grizzly Grandparents are residents of the Indiana Masonic Home in Franklin, a close neighbor of the FC campus. The 2012-13 season will mark the eighth full year of the Grandparents’ enthusiastic partnership.
Former head coach Kim Eiler and the late Wendell “Fuz” Waskom, a resident of the Masonic home, created this partnership as a way to provide new relationships and friendship between the student-athletes and the residents of the Masonic home. “It was something I had been introduced to before I got here,” said Eiler, who stepped down as Franklin coach at the conclusion of the 2011-2012 season. “Lots of people do these kinds of pairings. I had done it at Goshen College. Here you couldn’t have asked for a better situation.
“Fuz and Peg Waskom, plus Dick Howard were my sounding
boards. They were the ones who helped me get it started in the
Masonic Home. We started out with 18 people. The next year it was
up to 32 people.”
Waskom invited Eiler to one of the Masonic Home’s monthly independent living meetings and suddenly the Grizzly Grandparents and the Lady Grizzlies were a team.
Since that time, the group has not only attended all Franklin women’s basketball home contests, but also has participated in the team’s tip-off socials, Christmas parties and awards banquets. They have been to several road games and they traveled by bus to cheer on the Grizzlies in their NCAA Division III tournament game at Capital University in March, 2006. A few members made the trip to Grand Rapids, Mich., for Franklin’s NCAA tournament game in March at Calvin College.
“I don’t know if we give them as much as they give to us, but I hope that we do,” said Eiler. “They sure mean a lot to us.