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The date was set, the plans were all but finalized and Kim Francis was about to call a fancy catering hall on Long Island to book a big room. But her daughter, Phyllis Francis, wasn’t interested in having a huge, gaudy Sweet 16 party. Instead, she wanted a pizza party at home with only a handful of friends.
“She’s very quiet,” Kim Francis said. She doesn’t want to be in the limelight.”
If you talk to Phyllis Francis for an extended period of time, you will notice a polite girl, well-mannered and mature. But painfully shy. That’s OK, though, because she does most of her talking with her legs. Francis, a Laurelton native and sophomore at Catherine McAuley HS in Brooklyn, set a CHSAA outdoor track and field intersectional championship record in the 800-meter run Saturday on Randall’s Island. Her time of 2:11.67 shattered the old mark, set in 1987, by more than two seconds.
“I wasn’t really focused on setting a record,” Francis said.
But that’s all she’s done in only two years of high school. Last year as a freshman, she was voted most outstanding CHSAA athlete during indoor and outdoor seasons. This year, she’s already won the honor for indoor season and Saturday she took home the award for most outstanding female on the track at the city championships. With the state Federation meet coming up June 13-14 in Buffalo, Francis has become one of the premier runners in the city. And she’s only 16 years old.
With some prodding Francis admits she has surprised even herself with the results.
“I know not a lot of sophomores and freshmen have accomplished what I have,” she said.
Francis started training with her father Andrew’s club squad, Team Evolution, when she was 8 years old. Mandisa Nicholson, a Forest Hills resident, was an assistant there and four years ago she got the track coaching job at McAuley, a small, all-girls’ school in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. For the Francises, sending Phyllis to McAuley was a no-brainer — and not just because of Nicholson. The school has an enrollment of only 275 kids and it stresses academics. A perfect fit for an unassuming girl who doesn’t like to be the center of attention.
“She’s basically put the school on the map,” Nicholson said. “(Her success) has somehow got the school’s now out there.”
Francis’ name is out there, too. After states comes nationals, then the Junior Olympics. And down the line, maybe even in 2012, her goal is to compete in the Summer Games.
“I cannot believe this,” Kim Francis said of her daughter’s sudden stardom. “It’s so amazing. It’s like stuff you read about in a book.”
Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at email@example.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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