“Legacy of the Elizabethton Flashers” Ruth Franklin, welcome to the Carter County Sports Hall of Fame

Published 3:15 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2024

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BY C.Y. Peters

In the late 1920s, Elizabethton buzzed with excitement on Friday nights as the Elizabethton Flashers took the basketball court. Among them was a young woman named Ruth Franklin, a dynamo at the guard position. Little did the spectators know that Ruth would become a legendary figure in both local sports and education.

Ruth’s journey began at Elizabethton High School, where she honed her skills on the basketball court. The team, known as the Elizabethton Flashers, would later adopt the name Cyclones. Ruth’s talent shone bright, earning her a spot as an All-State guard, a position she played with grace and determination.

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Her coach, recognizing Ruth’s exceptional abilities, humorously remarked, “I wish she would fail, so I could play her another year.” It was a testament to her skill and commitment to the game. Ruth’s love for basketball extended beyond her high school years; she continued her athletic journey at Milligan College, where her skills flourished even more.

After college, Ruth found herself drawn to coaching. She returned to her roots, guiding the basketball teams at Hampton High and Keenburg Elementary schools. Not content with merely coaching, Ruth took on the role of an advocate for her teams. At Hampton, she sold advertisements to secure uniforms for the girls’ team, laying the foundation for a long-standing tradition of blue and white colors.

It was during this time that Ruth met Charles, the man who would become her husband. Their love story unfolded amidst basketball courts and fundraising efforts. The couple welcomed a daughter named Ann into their lives, solidifying their family legacy in the community.

Ruth’s dedication to education paralleled her passion for sports. She taught in the city’s schools for over 40 years, leaving an indelible mark on generations of students. Her teaching career took her to Harold McCormick after a brief stint at Valley Forge and Keenburg. Ruth’s commitment to her students and the community became a cornerstone of her legacy.

Even in her retirement, Ruth remained an active force in her community. At the age of 92, she continued to drive, attend church every week, and teach a Sunday School class. Her love for sports persisted, making her a dedicated fan of local teams. The Elizabethton Flashers may have evolved into the Cyclones, but Ruth Franklin’s impact endured.

As the matriarch of a loving family, Ruth’s story served as an inspiration to many. Her journey from a standout basketball player to a revered educator and community leader exemplified resilience, dedication, and a passion for making a positive impact. The legacy of the Elizabethton Flasher lived on through Ruth Franklin, leaving an everlasting imprint on the hearts of those who knew her and the town she called home.  Franklin is a member of the Elizabethton High School Sports Hall of Fame and on May 18 will be inducted into the Carter County Sports Hall of Fame at Milligan College.