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Playing with heavy hearts
Yellowjackets dedicate season to Franky Silveira
Hilmar Football Pic1
Hilmar High quarterback Andrew Olson flips over a gigantic tire during a summer workout, in preparation for the upcoming fall season. - photo by CHHUN SUN / The Journal

On July 7, a group of Hilmar High students woke up with football on their minds. That’s what happens when you’re a Yellowjacket. They were in the middle of summer workouts, a very crucial element in preparing for the fall season. Their main focus were strengths and conditionings, with much of the responsibility sitting on the shoulders of assistant coach Franky Silveira.

That date was a sad one, as the Hilmar coaching staff and players learned about the sudden death of Silveira. He was 25. The Yellowjackets were crushed and didn’t know how to react.

But soon after, they had to keep moving. They had to keep working.

So now, they’re in the weight room getting stronger and faster, in preparation for fall practice beginning on Aug. 8. They’re jumping ropes to maintain their agility. They’re flipping over gigantic monster truck tires to work on every inch of muscle. They believe Silveira, a 2003 Hilmar High graduate, wouldn’t want it any other way.

“The kids really, really liked him,” Hilmar coach Frank Marques said. “They’re using his passion as a motivation. They’re working hard, and that’s what he’d want them to do. They want to do well for him. He always talked about success, winning and all that. The best way to immortalize him is to have a great season.”

They had another solid season in 2010, but that one came with some adversity. Their star quarterback, Andrew Olson, broke his non-throwing left arm in the third game, keeping him from his teammates and sport until the Yellowjackets’ playoff opener with Argonaut High on Nov. 12. So this time, Olson is looking for redemption, and he’s doing it with about 16 others who started last season.

“This year’s team,” Olson began, “we’re flying under the radar. That’s a good thing. I don’t like all the hype.”

The Yellowjackets have always been a team that does its talking on the field. Their longtime success, including the 2008 Sac-Joaquin Section title, is proof. They always strive for wins, no matter who’s on the roster. So that’s why they continue to work relentlessly in the summer, though they’re doing it with heavy hearts.

Silveira was instrumental in shaping the Yellowjackets’ strengths and conditioning programs not long after he graduated from Hilmar. He was a motivator, constantly telling every Yellowjacket he can do better. He spent many summer days with the Yellowjackets underneath the hot sun and inside the school’s weight room.

This season is dedicated to Silveira.

“He was looking forward to the season like any other,” senior offensive lineman Austin Jones said. “He’s gone now but he would want us to keep working out.”

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.