FRANKLIN — Waking up every morning worrying about winning soccer games is like a dream come true for Cody Graman.
The Columbus East graduate, who was recently named head coach of the Franklin College men’s soccer team, stepped on the Grizzlies fields nearly 10 years ago as a 19-year-old freshman whose goal was to pursue an accounting career.
Graman played under fellow East grad and former Franklin coach Shaun Mahoney when Graman received his first coaching gig as Mahoney’s assistant coach for the Columbus Express Soccer Club. Graman helped out with Express the entire four years he played for Mahoney and had no idea this opportunity would project him onto a coaching career path.
“At the time, going to school here, having my focus being business related things, I didn’t think that coaching was going to be what I really wanted to do,” Graman said. “But once you get the itch to do it, it’s kind of hard to get away from it.”
Graman was named All-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference as a player and said he enjoyed his years as a college athlete. So he jumped on the chance to stay involved with the program and learn more about the game when Mahoney asked if Graman wanted to hop on board as a volunteer assistant a year after his 2011 graduation.
Graman volunteered for the 2012 and 2013 seasons before a move to Indianapolis prevented him from participating. But he did not stay away for long and accepted the assistant coaching position in April 2016.
Late last month, Graman was offered the head coaching job when Mahoney stepped down after 11 seasons to become the associate head coaching at the University of Indianapolis and the executive director for the St. Francis soccer club. Mahoney led the Grizzlies to their first win over a nationally-ranked opponent with a 1-0 win against DePauw in 2014.
“From a coach-to-player standpoint, he was the best coach I’ve ever had,” Graman said. “A large portion of everything I know from coaching has come from him.”
Graman will use some of the knowledge he learned from Mahoney now that he has taken over, but is excited to be in a position to create an influence of his own into the program. Franklin has yet to win a conference championship, and Graman believes the team has a good shot at making that happen next year.
Graman is focused on making sure the Grizzlies are in a position to stay competitive every year and said he has a lot of energy he can put into the program. Coaching for the team he used to play for makes being a head coach that much more fun and exciting for him.
The journey he took from starting as a player to landing the head coaching position will allow Graman to better connect with the athletes he is coaching. Staying connected to the school since 2007 has allowed him to know all aspects Franklin’s soccer program.
He is still entering new territory in certain aspects of the job, like hiring an assistant coach for the first time, but said the school has done a a good job of making it an easy transition for him. Other coaches across the campus have given their congratulations and has offered assistance to Graman. He said it is like a family, and he knows the other coaches will do anything they can to help.
“I feel like if we can continue winning conference every year, that’s the goal” Graman said. “We want to win games, we want to win conference and we want to make it to the NCAA tournament.”
Name: Cody Graman
High school: Columbus East
Player accolades: All-Heartland Collegiate Conference
Coaching Goals: Win the conference and make the NCAA tournament