BATON ROUGE – Going into his 50th year as a coach with three state championships and 269 wins in 28 years as a high school football head coach, Frank Monica still wasn’t sure.
“I didn’t feel worthy. I don’t know now if I’m worthy of this honor. It’s so prestigious. So many of my good friends have not been inducted. I look at that and say, ‘My God, it’s so very special to me to be included in that group in that group,’ and hopefully they will all be. I feel like there is more to accomplish out there, not so much from the wins and losses category, but just the people you can impact,” Monica said.
Everyone else at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Tuesday night knew he was worthy as Monica was among the group of inductees at the 41st Annual Induction Ceremony of the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame.
“I think he’s earned it. It’s well-deserved. Besides the amount of game’s he’s won, anybody that can go that long in coaching deserves to be here. He’s going on 50 years. It says a lot about the amount of lives he’s been able to touch by staying in this profession. I think it says a lot about him,” said Nick Monica, Frank’s son, who is also the baseball coach at Rummel and was recently named the Raiders’ head football coach for the 2019 season.
“It’s well deserved, said Ty Monica, another son who serves on Frank’s staff at St. Charles Catholic. “There’s a lot of hard work and determination that went into it over the years, even being away from his family to an extent over a certain period of time when he was at the college level, we didn’t see him all that much.
“When he came back to the high school level and had a chance to coach both myself and my brother, it kind of made it a bit surreal. Now, on a professional level, following in his footsteps, it makes it very rewarding on his end, I’m sure.”
The family roots run deep when it comes to coaching within the Monica family. Wayne Stein, Frank’s nephew, is the offensive coordinator at St. Charles, as well as the head coach of the Comets’ baseball team.
“Coach Monica, for us at a young age, he was someone who was in college, so he was somebody that was in and out and worked a lot of hours, so it was definitely special when he came back my junior and senior years to coach me in baseball and with as far as me and Ty go back with the staff, it was almost like making up for lost time. We hold each other to a high standard. Some people don’t understand that but on Friday night, it’s not just about winning, it’s about not letting our family member down also,” Stein said.
Those family members, especially those in the coaching community, also were able to bask in Frank Monica’s induction.
“As an assistant and someone who works for him, it’s also an honor, too,” Stein said. “The last 16 years, to feel like you had a part in it. It’s an honor and he’s done it for a long time and he’s done it his way and he hasn’t changed. They talk about kids changing and things like that, Coach Monica hasn’t changed. He’s held kids to a high standard and done it the right way for a long time and I’ve felt he’s held our coaches to that standard and I think today is icing on the cake. You knew everybody realized how good he really was and this is the final stamp on a career that’s continuing.”
Others echoed the sentiment of the Hall of Fame induction symbolizing a seal of approval for Frank Monica’s career.
“I don’t know necessarily how he views it. From my standpoint, I kind of maybe feel like everything you did in the past and what you are doing now for a good reason, but not only was the reason kind of portrayed itself, it kind of also shows the accomplishments that happened over the years because of it,” Ty Monica said.
“He’s got a lot of his family here, brothers and sisters, school membership and administrations he’s served under, I think just the fact all those people showing up here at this event gets everybody together in the same room and allows us to celebrate it,” said Nick Monica.
In a long career that has included head coaching high school jobs at Lutcher, Riverside Academy, Jesuit and St. Charles Catholic, along two stints as an assistant at Tulane, some wonder if Frank Monica, with as intense as he is on the sidelines, can ever stop and appreciate the moments of his success as they occur.
He seemed able to be able to stop and notice Tuesday night.
“You have to cherish it because there are so many people who are good friends of mine that were real good coaches and players that are not in it yet, but they will be in their time. Their time is coming. This is a special night. It’s basically to honor my players. That’s what it’s all about. I can’t be more indebted to my players than I am today. They made it all possible. There are no jackasses running the Kentucky Derby, it’s all thoroughbreds.”