Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
In front of the Madera South Stallions cross country team are, from left, co-head coaches Benny Madrigal and Sky Fierro, along with assistants Christin Beaulieu and Ramon Delgadillo.
Although their names will be atop the coaching list, Sky Fierro and Benny Madrigal aren’t strangers to the Madera South cross country teams.
Fierro has coached the Stallions for the past few years as well as being the cross country coach at Martin Luther King Middle School. Madrigal has also be a part of the coaching staff the last few seasons.
However, when head coach Eloy Quintana left Madera South to take a physical education position and the head cross country coaching job at his alma mater at Clovis High School, Fierro and Madrigal were quick to take over the Stallions’ cross country team.
“The transition with the athletes and training part has been very smooth,” Fierro said. “I’ve known all of them, so I trust them and they trust me. The hard part has been all the administrative stuff with the paperwork, the bus schedules, to make the race schedules and the fundraising.”
“It’s exciting,” Madrigal said. “The community is built of runners. There are people excited to see myself and Sky take over. We care a lot about the program. That’s why we took it. We saw a big need to keep the program up. Both of us are very similar in our training plans. At the end of the day, we want the kids to be the best they can be. It’s about making them better and helping them improve. If we do that, they are going to run fast.”
As co-head coaches, Madrigal and Fierro know all about Madera South’s background in cross country and the numerous Central Section championships. Quintana said Fierro was instrumental in helping the girls team qualify for its first-ever Div. I CIF State Cross Country championships last year.
“There’s a little bit of weight because of the success Madera South has had in the past,” Fierro said. “It’s not just about winning, it’s about building runners for a lifetime and teaching them more than just is on the course. Off the course, they need to be a respectable person. My goal as a teacher has always been to teach them to become a productive member of society when they graduate. A large majority of everyone out here, I’ve coached at Martin Luther King. It wasn’t even that big of a transition. I’m just seeing them when they are older. Now, the workouts are harder.”
One of the biggest differences the athletes see is their coaches actively participate in the workouts or being able to demonstrate how to correctly do their stretches or warm-ups.
“I think the kids love that we’re an active coaching team,” Madrigal said. “We have good coaches out here and build a very positive environment out here. We push and we want everyone to do well. There’s a way to do that and I like the approach that everyone is taking.”
“If they’re going to hurt, we’re going to hurt,” Fierro said. “We’re going to go out there, and even if it hurts, we’re going to smile because it hurts less even if it’s a fake smile. We’ve never heard the excuse from any age group that we don’t know what they are facing. We are participating with them.”
Helping out Madrigal and Fierro are Christina Beaulieu and Ramon Delgadillo, head coach of the Stallions girls soccer team.
Although the Stallions, for the first time in their history, failed to qualify a male runner to the CIF State meet, Fierro and Madrigal said that wasn’t the reason why he jumped to take over the program.
“I came up to do the best I can to get them to do the best they can,” Fierro said. “Success has always been a part of Madera South. Hopefully, we can get there. As long as we can get them to improve and do the best they can, success will come with that.”
“There’s a lot of very good runners in Madera’s history,” Madrigal said. “We believe there are a lot of great runners at Madera South right now. It’s just getting them ready and showing them what it’s like to enjoy running. Most will think it’s a crazy thought. The numbers out here right now are having a good time pushing themselves and challenging themselves.”
Madrigal said what also is important to the team is that all four coaches are on the Madera South campus. Madrigal is an English Language Development teacher while Fierro and Beaulieu are physical education teachers. Delgadillo is a security guard on campus.
“I think it’s a huge difference to have coaches on site to see and talk to,” Fierro said. “We’re easily accessible.”
The Stallions faced their first big test Friday, but have an important meet coming up — the DeWitt Invitational at Town and Country Park on Aug. 31.
“We’ve done what we can,” Madrigal said. “We have the DeWitt Invitational on the 31st and we want to invite the community to come out to watch.”