It's official. Hilmar High has their first varsity boys’ volleyball team after football head coach Frank Marques made the push in the fall towards beginning a new era in spring sports for the Yellowjackets.
Of the six schools from the Journal's coverage area, Hilmar is also the first to adopt boys’ volleyball into their athletics and the reason for it is simple according to Marques, who has won Section titles in multiple sports as a head coach in soccer and football.
“It was my project. Last year I saw a thing about volleyball and how it can be an outlet for kids who don't do a sport in spring,” said Marques. “I thought it'd be great for our campus and got commitment from coaches to assist and I pushed it forward.”
Marques, who is the official general manager of the team, was able to get multiple coaches to volunteer including head coach Andrew Moeller, who has experience playing professionally.
“Also, we have Jessica Walley, Kristen Johns and Ryan Nickles on the court coaching the team,” said Marques. “We were able to get them all on board to help us out.”
Marques began the process in the fall by himself at first.
“I didn't even ask — I said we are going to do it,” said Marques. “And I ordered new balls and equipment and uniforms for the kids. I did go to the board, nobody said no to me, they just let me go forward with the project.”
With a supportive administration, principal and superintendent, the path was set for Hilmar to continue its growth in athletics.
“I love how supportive our administration is for kids. That is what I love about the district — they are all about doing what is right for the kids,” said Marques. “I even told them if they let me try it this year the coaches will volunteer so only thing the school had to pay for was transportation and officials.”
The varsity team currently has 14 players on the roster and the junior varsity team has seven.
The varsity team consists of football stars Joey Pereira and Kelby Peres along with soccer captains Jaime Carbajal and Michael Cardoso. Former Turlock Christian basketball player Ben Balswick is also on the team.
“I was begging and borrowing kids to come out and recruited my butt off,” said Marques. “I twisted ears and arms. Takes courage for these kids who never played before to put themselves out here. They were stars in other sports and didn’t know what to expect. I admire them for coming out and playing.”
Hilmar, who is currently not competing in the league for the year, is slated to be put into a league next season according to the section.
“No league competition. We couldn't get in since nobody would have us, but sections said next year they will put us somewhere, they will find a home for us,” said Marques.
Hilmar has already played in two games this season, against Western Athletic League's Los Banos and Weston Ranch of Stockton.
The 'Jackets topped LB 3-2 on Monday followed by a 3-1 loss to WR on Wednesday.
“A blue banner, that is my goal next year is to win a Section title,” Marques added. “This isn't a joke. I told the coaches, we are going to win many games. I think we have a good product on court, we are not taking it as a novelty thing, we want to compete and so far, we have competed.”
Hilmar will take on Ceres on the road at 6 p.m. today.