Four years in the making: senior Martin Franciscus leaves his mark on the boy’s basketball program


Emily O'Connor

Doing his pregame lineup handshake, senior Martin Franciscus (left) pretends to shoot an arrow in the student section with junior Brady Kuehl. Franciscus got his first career varsity basketball start against Fort Zumwalt East for senior night. “My basketball skills have improved thanks to being a part of [our school’s basketball] program,” Franciscus said. “I am a better defender, shooter and ball handler than I otherwise would have been.”

Sitting on the edge of his seat, a tunnel of his teammates and cheerleaders pave the way to the massive student section waiting to hear Martin Fraciscus’ name to be announced as a starter. As the announcer calls his name, Franciscus runs through the tunnel of his peers with the crowd cheering and players congratulating him. Making his way to the huddle, Franciscus prepares himself to start in his first varsity basketball game. 

“[Starting in a varsity basketball game] felt amazing. It is something I have been working towards since freshman year. I was so nervous about getting cut [from the team] over the summer, so I just kept working. When I found out I made it, I was overjoyed,” Franciscus said. 

Franciscus was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in fourth grade, which sometimes hindered his ability to keep up with his teammates. This included keeping a close eye on his blood sugar to ensure he didn’t overwork his body. 

“There are already many obstacles to overcome if you are trying to play basketball at a high level,” Franciscus said. “Having an illness like mine on top of that makes it even more difficult, but I didn’t want to quit on something that I loved so much.”

During his freshman year, Franciscus found support through former freshmen boys basketball coach, Melvin Bethany, who now serves as the athletic director at Lutheran St. Charles.

“When I got cut, I felt like I was being cheated because I thought I deserved a roster spot. But in the long run, coach [Melvin] Bethany helped me because it put a chip on my shoulder and made me try to outwork everyone else,” Franciscus said. “If he hadn’t cut me, I would not have made it this far.”

After his freshman year, Franciscus managed the JV boys basketball team for his sophomore and junior seasons. He was given a spot on the varsity roster during his senior year. 

“I don’t think I have ever heard of someone getting cut from the freshman team and then ending up on varsity as a senior,” Franciscus said. “I think back on all the people who were better than me in freshman year and in middle school, and now it seems crazy that I am the one who ended up on varsity.” 

The varsity boys basketball team ended with one of the best records in program history at 24-3. Franciscus plans to maintain the connections he made this season while making new ones as he attends the University of Missouri. 

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to outwork everyone,” Franciscus said. “People are not going to take you seriously unless you beat them in practice. You have nothing to lose if people consider you the worst player, so go out there and have fun.”