It’s been 22 years since Frank Godinez passed away, leaving behind a legacy of exceptional sports reporting in the town of Turlock. Often referred to as “Mr. Bulldog” during his 15-year tenure with the Turlock Journal, Godinez was known for having his involvement with all levels of athletics, from Little League baseball to high school football, all the while focusing on the players and doing his best to make each athlete feel like a pro.
Godinez was recognized in 1985 when he was honored posthumously by the California Park and Recreation Society with an outstanding volunteer service award for his time coaching as well as covering local sports.
"Through his involvement as a sports writer, through his work with youth or his volunteer commitment to the leisure activities of our community, he helped make Turlock a better place to live," said then Turlock Recreation Director Abe Rojas.
"There will never be another person who will exceed the commitment and dedication he had for the betterment of our community. He was a true friend in promoting leisure services of our town, county and state," he added.
But for many young, up-and-coming athletes in the area the name Frank Godinez doesn’t hold the same significance as it does for older generations. For many, particularly basketball players, they know Godinez as the namesake for the annual Frank Godinez Memorial Basketball Tournament, a three-day competition featuring some of the area’s top tier teams across multiple divisions.
This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the tournament, a milestone that has spurred those who both knew Godinez personally and have watched his legacy cement itself in the community to look back and reminisce.
Doug Cornfoot is one such person, having lived in the area as an athlete from 1979 to 1982 as part of the California State University, Stanislaus men’s basketball team and as a coach for more than a decade as the leader of Turlock High’s boys basketball team.
“I knew him for a short period of time, but the thing I remember vividly is that he was at everything,” Cornfoot said. “Living in the town of Turlock you were always curious to see what the athletic teams were doing and he was always the one out there covering it all.”
According to Cornfoot and others who knew Godinez the man, the fact that his name now represents competitive cornerstone of local athletics is fitting.
This year’s tournament will feature eight teams: Turlock High, Pitman High, Ceres High, Kimball High, Valley High, Davis High, West High and Ripon High. The tournament will be held from Dec. 8-10 at Turlock High School.
“I think it’s going to be some exciting, close, intense games,” Cornfoot said.
For more information on the tournament and the teams involved check out Wednesday’s edition of the Turlock Journal which will include a special tournament tab.