Brady Franks left behind a legacy at State College after graduating in 2015 with a school record of 107 boys’ lacrosse goals.
He never realized his mark might be broken so soon — especially by his younger brother, Ryan. But at Ryan’s pace — he’s up to 53 goals already as a sophomore — the younger Franks could eventually overtake the older.
“Obviously, my record’s my record and I take pride in it,” Brady said. “But, if anyone’s going to break it, I can’t complain if it’s my own brother. I’m happy for him; he’s doing really good, and I hope he keeps it up.”
The elder Franks brother might have no one to blame but himself. After all, it was him who got Ryan and their younger sister Ashley into lacrosse, despite their father’s history as a Penn State baseball player.
Instead of carrying a bat around the house as a grade-schooler, Ryan would stand on the sidelines at Brady’s games with a small lacrosse stick. Ryan didn’t stay with the sport because of his older brother — but that’s how his early love of the sport blossomed.
“Lacrosse is what I’ve wanted to do since I started,” Ryan said. “I remember they asked me if I wanted to play (lacrosse), and I said yes. Ever since I started, I didn’t want to play anything else. Lacrosse is what I want to do, and lacrosse is what I want to continue to do.”
Ryan’s mother, Shawn Franks, said her son displayed a natural talent for the sport ever since he sprinted down the youth lacrosse fields and travel leagues in third grade. Still, Franks never expected to earn a lot of playing time as a high school freshman last year. But that didn’t take long to change.
“In the first couple of games, I didn’t score,” Ryan said. “But then I started scoring, and I finished the season with 35 goals. That’s when I realized I had three more years and I could definitely, hopefully, achieve that (record).”
When Brady comes home from Widener University — in between phone conversations about food, lacrosse and family — the two play lacrosse in the backyard, usually exchanging tips or drills instead of chatting about the record.
Ryan said he views breaking Brady’s record as not something to “rub in his face,” but as a signifier of his progress as an athlete. Ryan even chose to wear Brady’s old jersey number (5) instead of wearing his own to continue the Franks’ legacy at State College.
“It would have been nice,” said Ryan, lamenting that he couldn’t play on the same team as his brother. “But then I wouldn’t have gotten to wear No. 5.”
Brady, who pioneered playing lacrosse in the Franks family, added he hopes he and Ryan’s names will be ones that future players can look upon as “pioneers of lacrosse” in the Centre County region.
“I always thought football was going to be my sport,” Brady said. “I never really grew to be the size of a football player but, after my first year of high school, I decided to stick with it.”
Ryan and Brady’s parents don’t see themselves as being in a difficult predicament — root for one son to keep his record, or the other to break it? — because they’ve chosen to view a broken record as an accomplishment, rather than a defeat of another.
In fact, most of the family will likely be in the stands when, and if, Ryan breaks his brother’s record. Just like Ryan was there on the sidelines when Brady hit his 100-goal milestone for the State College lacrosse program, Brady said he hopes to return the favor when his brother surpasses his record.
“It was nice to see Brady achieve something like that,” Ryan said. “Hopefully I get that moment, too. I don’t want to jinx myself and make it sound like I already feel like the record is mine.
“It would be something I would love to achieve and it’s something I’m going to work to achieve. I’m only halfway there. (There’s) a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m looking forward to it.”