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Hilmar’s Frank Marques: A ‘Model Coach’
Frank Marques
Hilmar High football coach Frank Marques — pictured here with his innovative playcallers — has been named a 2022-23 Model Coach Award winner by the California Interscholastic Federation (Journal file photo).

Hilmar High football coach Frank Marques has been named a 2022-23 Model Coach Award winner by the California Interscholastic Federation.

And why not? Marques has compiled a 179-59 (.752) record during 20 seasons on the Yellowjackets’ sideline. His teams have made the playoffs 18 times in those 20 seasons (there were no playoffs in 2020 due to the pandemic), winning four Sac-Joaquin Section championships in 10 trips to the finals and the 2018 Division 6-AA state championship.

“Doesn’t this lower the bar a lot?” Marques joked when asked about being one of 14 coaches throughout the state to receive the honor. “It’s humbling. It’s one of those things where you just go about doing your job and you don’t think about those kinds of accolades.”

The self-deprecating Marques may not think about personal honors, but others can tell you why the Hilmar mentor is so deserving.

Sydney Peterson, a highly touted volleyball player, suffered a career-ending back injury as a freshman at Hilmar in 2012.

“Knowing that I was struggling mentally and physically, Mr. Marques took me under his wing and explained to me that he was looking to bring in student play callers,” said Peterson, who now works for a Southern California construction firm. “He asked if I wanted to participate and I jumped at the opportunity. It was an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself.”

Peterson was later elected senior class president and went on to attend the University of Oregon, where she was involved in a sports intern program — working in recruitment and operations — for four years. Marques had an impact on Peterson’s decision.

“Absolutely,” said Peterson. “He pushed me to dig deeper and not let these setbacks determine my life or how I’d enjoy what turned out to be an amazing four years of high school.”

The CIF Model Coach program is designed to recognize coaches who have served as positive role models in their schools and communities, and who have exhibited the traits apparent in the 16 principles of Pursuing Victory with Honor, according to a CIF press release. 

“Frank really represents what a service-based, community coach is all about,” said Hilmar principal Melissa Brewer, who nominated Marques for the award. “He’s here on campus early, he’s here late, and he’s here on weekends. But he’s not only a coach for the kids, he’s a coach for the other coaches, as well.”

And that coaching is not limited to just Hilmar High coaches.

“When I first got the job at Hughson, I saw him at the Nate Costa Quarterback Camp and I came up and introduced myself,” said Shaun King, who in 2022 became the fourth Trans-Valley League coach since 2018 to lead his team to a state championship. “Right away, he welcomed me with open arms. And he gives me advice to this day. His door is always open and I’ve taken advantage of that over the years. When anything comes up, I can call Frank.”

Before the 2022 season, the Hughson program was rocked by the death off defensive coordinator Keith Parker. Naturally, King was affected by the loss. He leaned on Marques for support.

“If hadn’t called Frank after my defensive coordinator passed away, I don’t think I’m still the coach at Hughson,” said King. “He really talked me through it. I can’t appreciate him enough for that.”

According to the CIF’s template, a model coach demonstrates and teaches the six core ethical values: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and good citizenship, and that the highest potential of sports is achieved when coaches consciously teach, enforce, advocate and model (T.E.A.M.) these core ethical values.

“As we recognize and honor these model coaches who go above and beyond for their student-athletes, I want to thank them for their dedication to education-based athletics,” said CIF executive director Ron Nocetti.

But despite two decades of success, Marques sees himself as just another coach.

“To be honest with you, I don’t see myself as that guy when I’m coaching,” said Marques, who is about two seasons away from joining a handful of section football coaches who have won 200 or more games in their career. “I just try to represent the best of the game, win or lose. The older you get, the more reflecting you tend to do, and the wins aren’t as important as the relationships you build. I’m really grateful to my athletic director and my principal for their confidence in me and putting me up for this award.

“I’m just really fortunate to do what I do.”