Written by: Mitch Donat
Swim coach Mark Hernandez has a hefty schedule: aside from being a married father of two, he teaches Advanced Placement English and coaches water polo and swimming. Over the years, Hernandez has led his teams to multiple league titles and a Central Coast Section (CCS) championship, but now he has some personal hardware to add to his trophy case: the 2013 CCS Honor Coach award for swimming.
The award is given out once a year to one coach for his contribution to that sport at the interscholastic level, according to the CCS website. Hernandez acknowledges the award to numerous people. “I’d credit it to the swimmers in our program, the club coaches in the area who consistently deliver us excellent swimmers, the elite coaching staff I work with and the parents who help create a nice culture,” he said. “In addition, my wife Melinda helps with a lot of the organization of the team and administrative work.”
Many times when an individual wins an award, the standard notion is that it makes them less competitive. However, this is not the case for Hernandez. “It’s made me more motivated,” he said. “Now I’m walking around with a target on my back. I have to show that I deserve it, and I have to work even harder.”
Not only does Hernandez have to defend the honor coach award, but he must also defend the girls’ CCS title from last year. Despite the challenges, he has total faith in the team and its ability to come out on as victorious. “The last couple of years we’ve been the big dogs,” Hernandez said. “But now, there are teams that are projected to win CCS above us. As the underdogs, we’re more comfortable and it’s more fun for us.”
Athletes trained by Hernandez feel honored to swim with him and his coaching staff on the sideline. “He makes it a point to have a personal connection with every single person on the team,” junior Rachel Wong said. “He definitely deserved this award because he puts all of his effort into it.”
Junior Fiona Hon admires his coaching style in which he includes everyone on the team. “He treats everyone the same, whether they’re a star swimmer or just out there for fun,” she said.
This year, Hernandez’s swimming team placed fifth in CCS and hopes to do even better next year. “We all came out, tried our hardest and competed really well,” Hon said. “Next year, we’re all going to train a lot harder to regain our place as number one on the podium.”
Look forward to seeing Hernandez and the water polo team this upcoming fall.