LSU coach Fran Flory is known for being the winningest volleyball coach in LSU history. But her success has also shown off the court.
In Flory’s 20 seasons at the helm of LSU’s volleyball program, she has had 118 SEC Academic Honor Roll selections on her teams.
Balancing athletics and academics is no easy task for the coaches or the players. Flory said academics are always the No. 1 priority, even in the handbook.
“That is their future, so we actually have kind of a curriculum we’ve developed as a staff,” Flory said. “The steps that it takes to study, if you’re in this many hours of class this is how many hours you should study outside of class. We have some hard numbers to it and statistics that show if you do that you’re gonna be pretty proficient in most classes.”
Flory is very adamant about the players’ academics. She believes the team member’s GPAs should be among the highest, if not the highest, of all LSU’s athletic teams. The reality is that most will not continue volleyball after college, so their futures are in the classroom.
“I get all of their grades and they have the responsibility to report all of their grades to me,” Flory explained. “If they make a D or an F in anything, they have to come and present themselves in my office. We talk about how we’re gonna fix that. They have a responsibility to report every grade so I know as much going on academically as anybody.”
Being a student — athlete, many people seem to forget the student part. All of the coaches are aware of what their students are doing in their respective sports, but academics have to become a priority to the volleyball team.
Performances in the classroom come before performances on the court.
“It’s not really a balance,” Flory said. “It’s a priority.
Every practice we talk about academics. By this point, I know the classes and the professors well enough that I can tell them what’s coming up. I’m not an academic adviser in any way, shape or form, but I pay attention enough to know about their academics.”
Flory’s motherly instincts clearly show in the care she has for all of her players.
Aside from her own daughter, Lindsay Flory, being on the team, she treats every woman like family and only wants the best for them. She treats them all the same and pushes them to be the best they can be. She believes her job is to create a better future for her team.
“I truly, philosophically believe that school has to come first and I’ll never compromise that,” Fran said. “I care about these kids like they’re my own, and certainly the legacy they leave on the court is known by everybody, but the legacy the leave with me is how important is their future. Their future is in the classroom.”
Sophomore defensive specialist Raigen Cianciulli is a testament of Fran’s efforts. Cianciulli was named a Student Athlete of the Month in October for her performance on and off the court. She credits Fran’s dedication for the honor.
“She calls us in, checks our schedules, she makes sure we’re ahead,” Cianciulli said. “After practice she’s like, ‘Even if you don’t have anything get ahead. Read chapters that you don’t even realize you need to know.’ She definitely is one of the main reason we do well academically.”
Fran takes a lot of pride in the fact that her athletes care about school and their grades. She enjoys hearing about how they’re enjoying their classes and how they’re succeeding.
“I find great reward in when they come in and ask me to tutor them,” Fran said. “I’ll stay up here and help them. I’ll go to whatever length, legally of course. The bottom line is I find great reward in, number one, their ability to organize and prepare, number two, those skill sets we enforce in that curriculum and seeing them succeed through that.”