San Benito High alumnus Frankie Martinez is training champions

For this Hollister resident, sports are a vital activity for youth.
Orlando Dorado. Courtesy of Frankie Martinez.
Orlando Dorado. Courtesy of Frankie Martinez.
Julia Hicks. Courtesy of Julia Hicks.
Julia Hicks. Courtesy of Julia Hicks.
Orlando Dorado and Frankie Martinez. Courtesy of Orlando Dorado.
Orlando Dorado and Frankie Martinez. Courtesy of Orlando Dorado.

If you are going for character references in sports, you can’t do much better than San Benito High School graduate Julia Hicks. She is a 2021 Central Coast Section Champion and holds the high school record for the discus throw, at 140 feet, 3 inches. And she credits Coach Frankie Martinez with helping her train in throwing the hammer, a sport she picked up prior to applying to Boise State University.

“I definitely appreciated his approach to coaching,” Hicks, 19, said. “He really goes in-depth in his explanations. He takes it step-by-step and explains the physics to you, really breaking down the technique even before you start throwing,” said Hicks who was a BenitoLink reporter intern in 2021.

Outside of college coaching, Martinez, 30, is interested in working with at-risk youth to encourage them to take up sports to stay healthy mentally and physically—something that draws from his own experience.

“When I was in high school, the Central Coast was the youth murder capital of the world,” he said. “Really, the only choice you had was to get into athletics or to go out and do whatever on the streets. There were a lot of pressures that made it harder for me to stay engaged. So, for myself, it was something I could do to stay out of trouble. And I had people pushing me that way because they understood what the alternatives were.”

While Martinez works at Hartnell College in Salinas, his roots are in San Benito County.

“I was born and raised in Hollister,” he said. “I went to Rancho San Justo and San Benito High. I lived in Hollister until I went to the University of the Southwest (USW) in Hobbs, New Mexico, and I came back to Hollister when I started working at Hartnell.”

Martinez got his start in sports when one of the coaches at Rancho San Justo, who had been impressed by Martinez’s performance during a P.E. track and field competition, pulled him out of a math class and told him he was going to be joining the track team.

“At that time, I did not know that track was a sport,” he said. “I thought it was just something you did for recreation. I developed a passion for the sport and won the middle school championships in eighth grade.”

As a student at SBHS, he took third in the discus at the Central Coast Section Championships and advanced to the state championships. At Hartnell where he was named Most Valuable Field Athlete in his freshman year and earned all-conference honors in the discus, shot put and hammer. Martinez set the school records in the shot, discus, hammer, javelin, and weight throw at USW and was named 2016 USW Athlete of the Year.

As an assistant coach in the throwing events at Hartnell, one of the athletes he works with is Orlando Dorado, 18, a 2021 SBHS graduate. Dorado credits Martinez with getting him into the college.

“My high school coach, Bob Rawles, told me about Frankie, and he seemed to be one of the better coaches in the area,” he said. “It was a close decision as to where I would go to college, but Frankie helped set me up with financial aid by telling me about a program through Hartnell called the Salinas Valley Promise. It allowed me to go to a school that was close enough to drive to school every day and not have to worry about where the money is coming from.”

As with Hicks, Martinez took a specialized approach to Dorado’s training.

“When I got to Hartnell,” Dorado said, “Frankie broke me down to ground zero and he retaught me everything I thought I knew about throwing shot put, discus, hammer and javelin. He lays everything out for you in a way you understand and if you don’t understand, he will find different words to say the same thing.”

“It is my vision to guide kids along a better path,” Martinez said. “I had friends who were athletes growing up and the bad influences pushed them over. I have friends who ended up in jail, I have some who ended up in the cemetery. I want kids to know that there are alternatives, and they get to choose what they want. I want to be able to help them build a better life for themselves.”


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Robert Eliason

I got my start as a photographer when my dad stuck a camera in my hand on the evening of my First Grade Open House. He taught me to observe, empathize, then finally compose the shot.  The editors at BenitoLink first approached me as a photographer. They were the ones to encourage me to write stories about things that interest me, turning me into a reporter as well.  BenitoLink is a great creative family that cares deeply about the San Benito community and I have been pleased to be a part of it.