Education – and basketball – may be the defining contributions of Marion resident Fran Voll. While his career wound through Delphos and Bowling Green, what he learned on his long and illustrious career as an educator, coach, and administrator, is now benefiting both him and Marion.
After graduating from Marion Catholic High School and earning college degrees at St. Francis College and Bowling Green State University, Voll landed at Delphos-St. John High School, where he served as basketball coach for 16 years. In 1984, he moved to the collegiate ranks, returning to BGSU as an extremely successful head coach for the women’s basketball team, as well as associate director of athletics, until 1996. He also served as head coach for women’s basketball at Central Michigan University.
In 2000, he returned to Marion and his alma mater, Marion Catholic High School, where he would serve as principal until his retirement in 2011.
“I came back for the Marion Catholic job,” said Voll, “because Marion is my hometown.”
Voll was born in Marion and grew up on Lafayette Street, the son of a tailor. His father and grandfather’s downtown shop was in business when President Harding died and Voll recalls stories of how the family pressed a lot of suits for visiting dignitaries. He and his two siblings were around when the railroads and industry drove a lot of economic activity; but, as Voll puts it, he eventually left Marion to “do the career thing”–and that meant heading off to win a lot of basketball games.
Some of his most noteworthy career highlights came during his tenure at BGSU. His 71 percent win/loss record was the best in the Mid-American Conference, he was selected as the conference’s Coach of the Year twice, and held the second longest winning streak in the nation with 21 consecutive wins in 1986-87 and 22 consecutive wins during the 1987-90 seasons. His 1989 BGSU women’s team won the first NCAA game in Mid-American Conference history and went on to four consecutive NCAA tournament berths. Voll has maintained close ties with BGSU, serving on the university’s Alumni Association and nine years on its Board of Trustees, including a term as chairman.
True to his mission to set an example in education, Voll said, “Coaching and winning is great, but the statistic of which I’m most proud is that my players always graduated.”
Since retirement, he has focused his attention on community groups that impact education. He is in his second term on the board of Marion Community Foundation and serves on the board of TRECA Digital Academy, where he advocated for moving their premises downtown to be in the heart of the community. Most recently, he has become involved at the Marion Area Chamber of Commerce as an advocate for education. His past involvements have included service to the Marion Family YMCA, Fahey Banking Company, and United Way of Marion County.
Talk to Voll today about Marion and the basketball coach in him shines through. Perseverance is a theme, and he is excited about all the hard work he is seeing done in the community. True to his values, off-the-court work is just as important as sinking those 3-pointers. He is an advocate for the evolution of education in Marion.
“New, outside-the-box thinking in education has a significant impact on our diverse community,” said Voll. “The massive efforts to collaborate education by Tri Rivers, Marion Tech, Ohio State Marion, and the public schools, exemplify the new and impactful ways that education can change lives and a community. Marion is in a great place of growth, with lots of fresh new people, working hard.”
He and his wife, Marty, live in Marion and raised three sons, Joe, Matt, and Mike, two of whom are teachers.
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