Vrablic resigns as head coach of boy’s soccer, leaves lasting impression on his players

Cole Basnight, Staff Writer

For 25 years Frank Vrablic drove to school, taught a full schedule of math and then headed to the soccer field. Once there, he stayed for hours. During practices he focused on runs and drills with his players. On game day, he gave pep talks prior to the game and encouraged his players to work as a team to achieve victory.

Over the 25 years, Vrablic coached hundreds of players and left a lasting impression on most.

“He is a great guy and lived for the school,” former player TJ Papenfuss said. “He put his heart [out] for every single player during every game.”

During his 25 years as the boy’s head coach, Vrablic collected an impressive record . On average his teams won 15 games a year. He won 20 conference championships with his teams, 13 of which were in a row.  He led his teams to total of 367 wins, giving him a 76.1 percent win percentage.

“Mr. Vrablic had a general winning record,” MHS graduate Matt McGinnis said. “We usually won the conference and went into the playoffs each year. Hopefully, the next coach can continue his trend.”

As a coach, Vrablic was loud and intense on the sidelines.

“Mr. Vrablic was an emotional coach on the sidelines, showing the good and the bad of the game,” sophomore Keegan Beasley said.

Vrablic’s decision to resign came after the Sept. 17 away Gates County game because he felt “ like the support was there anymore.”

“I just felt like it was in the best interest with everything going on to step down,” Vrablic said. “I was being bombarded with things I couldn’t control. I felt like there were issues that should have been addressed that were not.”

Assistant coach Curtis Price took over the boy’s soccer program.

Vrablic’s decision to step down shocked many since he had coached the boy’s team from 1989-2014. As of now, he still plans to coach the girl’s team in the spring.

“The thought of losing someone who has been with the school as long as the program has been around is never a good thing,” MHS graduate Thomas Bliven said. “Luckily, the team is doing well after losing him.”

Although he is no longer coaching from the sidelines, Vrablic continues to keep track of the team’s success. He believes this team has the ability to win a state championship if they keep working hard. The team plays Raleigh Charter in the fourth round of the state playoff tomorrow (Nov. 8).

“[The team] is doing well right now,” Vrabic said. “I had the pieces figured out earlier than I ever had [with this team]. There were [only] a couple positions I had to figure out [and] I had to work on [getting] the substitutes in the right positions.”

Vrablic has many memories of his time as coach. A spirit gorilla that was stolen, returned and stolen again. A 2005 team that went all the way to the 1A state championship game but lost it to the Thomasville Bulldogs. However, one of his most precious memories might be that of the community that rallied him with his wife died in 2013. Following her death, Vrablic wore her lucky hat at each game. He realized as the bus was pulling out for an away game against Camden that he had forgotten the hat on his desk. The bus stopped and one of his players, Eugene Velasco, ran back inside to get it. 

“The boys supported me so much when my wife was sick [and] they supported her spirit,” Vrablic said. “The hat exemplified the spirit the team had [and] my wife was gone but never forgotten.”

Vrablic loved his players, whether they realized it or not. He was an advocate for them in and out of school, and he enjoyed being around his players and encouraged them to give back to the community. He was passionate about the sport and embodied all the qualities of a great coach.

“What Coach Vrablic taught us about character has been invaluable,” MHS graduate Robbie Atkinson said. “I will always admire his selflessness and commitment.”