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Isabella Franchi

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Isabella Franchi

Member of the CDSWOY Class of 2023
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Written by Kyle Adams, The Daily Gazette

When you find something you love doing, it’s easy to want to share that with others.

Not only did Isabella Franchi’s love of basketball lead to her commitment to play at Saint Michael’s College next season, but to her involvement with Unified Basketball, as well as a youth basketball coach.

“I had no idea I was being considered for this,” Franchi, a recent graduate of Colonie High School, said of being named one of this year’s Capital District Sports Women of the Year scholastic honorees. “I was called into the office and on a Zoom were my parents, which was a little scary, and the founder [Eric McDowell]. He told me a little about it and that I was nominated for it.

“Hearing all the support and all the work that went into entering me for this, it just means so much,” added Franchi, who also played varsity soccer.

“During her career at Colonie, Isabella proved time and again to be one of the hardest workers on the basketball team,” Colonie girls’ basketball coach Heather DiBiase wrote in her recommendation letter. “Her relentless work ethic and determination are two of the reasons why her teammates and coaches selected her to represent them as captain her senior year.”

While Franchi’s success on the court, and her involvement in the basketball community when she wasn’t playing herself, is what stood out, she never expected to be given an award for it.

“I coach for the same basketball program that I played in, when I fell in love with the game,” she said. “Those were some of the best basketball moments I’ve ever had. Being able to be a part of that, seeing the kids have fun, learn those life lessons and be there for them, it’s great to be able to help show them the way.”

Being part of the Unified Basketball program offered a similar experience for Franchi.

“One of the years I did it, during COVID, just seeing how happy the kids were with what we could give them — which wasn’t much — it was amazing,” Franchi said. “Over the years, seeing the kids keep that same energy, knowing you’re giving them as much as you can, it’s a great feeling.”

Giving back as a youth coach paid off for Franchi, as she gained some additional supporters at Colonie’s varsity games.

“As you get older, sometimes people forget the fun part of it,” Franchi said. “Getting to joke around with the kids, seeing them come to my games and cheer me on, it’s just a really fun program to be a part of.”

Franchi’s athletic success and community involvement, while still maintaining a high academic standing left DiBiase in awe.

“She was a coach for the Capital District Girls Basketball League for four years,” DiBiase wrote of Franchi. “She organized a student/staff charity basketball game at Colonie High School. She is an ICare member and Treasurer and a member of the Youth Advisory Board. Her amazing ability to balance her schoolwork and extracurricular activities is outstanding.”

“She is the epitome of what any coach would want their players to be,” added girls’ soccer coach Ryan Edson. “Not only has she been a source of inspiration for her teammates, but also the coaches in the program as well.”

At the end of the day, the one goal has always remained the same – just to be able to continue playing.

“Ever since I was little,” Franchi said, “I’ve loved playing basketball and eventually I realized what the main goal was, which is to just keep playing.”

Founder & Personal Trainer