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4'10" Frank Medina was hired as head trainer by Coach Bible in 1945 and over the next 32 years Medina worked for 5 UT football Coaches and was selected as the head trainer for two U.S. Olympic teams.
Franks reputation received special notoriety during Royals tenure at Texas. Coach Royal and Frank Medina believed that football was not a sport for the weak spirited. In Coach Royal's first year as head coach in 1957, DKR tells Medina to get the players in shape. Frank loved his job but none of the players loved him doing his job. He drove the players hard during the infamous "Medina Sessions".
In 1972 Gary Shaw, a former Texas football player, writes a book called Meat on the Hoof, and he mentions the "Medina Sessions." The author says that "cattle are treated better than the football players". Most of the comments in his book are vindictive, exaggerated, and untrue. I know because I trained under Frank Medina. However, even after discounting Gary's exaggerations, hitting a punching bag until I could know longer raise my arms was still painful.
During Coach Royals early years at Texas the players were remarkably free of injuries. Part of the reason was great conditioning and the other reason was injury denial. The players preferred to play hurt rather than enter Medina's rehab program. Players fled the training areas so they did not have to hear the screams of team members trying to comeback from an injury. To enhance the healing process Frank on occasion would drive a player miles from campus and tell him to walk back.
Ray Cunningham, the All American in the 120 yard high hurdles, in the early 60's is quoted in the book Champions authored by Carlton Stowers and Wilbur Evans saying that part of Medina's reconditioning program after his leg injury was a "Medina-assigned" walk from Round Rock back to campus. Rumor has it that Ray met a lot of fine people who were not afraid to pick-up hitchhikers wearing U.T. track clothes so the walk back for conditioning could have been compromised. If so- Ray never mentioned the ride home to Frank Medina.
Work-out schedule for summer 1977
Some Feedback By Some Of The Players During The Medina Years :
Frank had an unusual speech pattern that took liberties with the English language. The way he constructed his sentences and his cadence were Yoda like long before the First Star Wars Movie .
I can still hear Yoda ( Frank Medina) making the following comments.
Player says "I can’t believe it", and Yoda (Medina) says "That is why you fail.”
Yoda (Frank) " I cannot teach him. The boy has no patience."
Yoda (Frank) "Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try." "You think Medina stops teaching, just because his student does not want to hear? A teacher Medina is. "
Glenn Blackwood, defensive back, 1976-1978 elaborates in more detail about the Longhorn Yoda. He says "You know what he was like? Darrell Royal was Obi-Wan Kenobi and Frank Medina was Yoda. This little guy was a piece of work. 'Mr. Man. Come on, Mr. Man.' Medina would say. He couldn't remember our names, so he just called us all 'Mr. Man.' One time he had us run the religious relays. 'I want the Baptists over here, the Methodists here....' I've never seen anything like him".
David Anderson also agrees with the Yoda comparison for Medina. David quotes Medina (Yoda) "Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not."
"Judge me by my size, do you? HMM. And well you should not."
Tom Stolhandske, defensive end, 1950-1952 says: "Frank Medina--the Little Indian--was our trainer. You didn't want to go see him....if you got under his control for some kind of treatment, it was absolute horror. I'd walk into the training room and see somebody in the steam bath--locked in, pounding on the door, trying to get out."
"If Frank put you in there for x minutes, you were going to stay in there for that amount of time, whether or not you passed out. He'd get you in the stadium and make you run to the top, some 70 or 80 rows, back and forth, back and forth...he'd give you a dummy to carry. I injured my ankle against Oklahoma.... We got back to Austin and he said, 'Come get some treatment.' I said, 'Frank, I didn't hurt my ankle, I just thought I did. Tape it up.' He wasn't about to get me in that training room...."
Jack Collins, halfback, 1959-1961: "One week--the week of the OU game--I cut a class. And I remember having to run stadium steps with Frank Medina at 6:00 in the morning. I mean, I don't care if you were a starter or what. You didn't get by with that....I remember him taking some guys up to Round Rock and just letting them out of the car. They probably hitched a ride, but he wanted them to walk back to Austin to lose weight."
Jerry Sisemore says Franks favorite saying was "'What are you saving it for, son? What are you saving it for?' We'd run the stadium steps and had to do it 10 times. It's only 75 steps to the top of the stadium, and at first we thought, 'It's probably a nice view up there.' By the time we got to the eighth time, we were crying. We'd jump rope and punch the bag. This was off-season with Frank. After the workout, everyone else would go to dinner, and he'd get the fat boys in there with weight vests on. They'd do sit-ups with dumbbells and he'd count to 500. 'What are you saving it for, son? What are you saving it for?' It was a gut-check.
My senior year against Baylor in Waco, I sprained my ankle--just ripped it right before halftime. Frank used about 6 rolls of tape on it. We were in the 3rd quarter when he finished taping it. Frank says 'Okay I've wasted enough tape. What are you saving it for? I'm going to lock this door, Sisemore. Are you going to sit here locked in, or are you coming with me'? But if you go out there, you're playing.'
He was that kind of guy. He could push you further than you wanted to go. I didn't want to go back in, but I had no choice; I wasn't getting locked in there. I knew he was just trying to push me. So I finally said, 'Okay, push me. I'm in.'
Guys loved him; you knew where his heart was.
Roosevelt Leaks, fullback, 1972-1974: "Frank got us in shape. He did do that. When you talk about doing whatever it takes to get it done--not just in football--Frank had a lot to do with that. When times get hard today, most of us keep going, and that attitude is because of Frank. You learned little things that didn't make a big impression then, but today you're still doing those things and you wonder why. It's because we were taught how to get things done."
Keith Moreland, defensive back, 1973: "When you're in two-a-days and the AstroTurf gets to 115-120 degrees, you really get to know the courage that human beings have; to be able to put up with all that and go through what you have to go through. In those days, Frank Medina gave no water breaks. The only thing you had was a frozen sliced orange. Boy, that orange looked pretty good most days."
Earl Campbell, fullback, 1974-1977: 1977 new football coach Fred Akers tells Earl to lose 20 pounds before the start of the season. Earl then said [to Frank]: 'I want to win that award [Heisman Trophy] next year.' Medina said, 'If you want to win that award, come here every day after you get off that job.'
That's how I won the Heisman, because of Frank Medina. He had more to do with it than anybody."
Bobby Mitchell said in the book Echos of Texas Football that Medina " was running people off". "Medina was somewhat of a henchman.
Loyd Wainscott's wife Barbara shares a memory of Frank Medina's impact on Loyd's life.
She says "Loyd loved Frank but he respected Medina Sessions! Frank decided Loyd gained too much weight his freshman year and when he sent him home for the summer he gave him strict instructions to "not eat anything white". Loyd followed his instructions to the T. When he got back for two-a-days Coach Royal saw him and said "My God! Where did you spend the summer...in a concentration camp?!" and he put him on the scales. He had lost down to 197 lbs. Loyd told him what Frank had instructed and Coach yelled "FRANK!"...as Frank went scurrying around the corner, no where to be found. From then on Frank took Loyd under his wing to bring him back. He would take him into the back room to tape his ankles where there was air conditioning and give him Mama Medina's cookies and milk. He even gave me an interview for the school paper for my journalism requirements and gave me a hand-woven peasant purse from the old country. He had a very special place in Loyd's heart, as I'm sure he did in many a Longhorn player.
Scott Palmer had his own experience with the "hike". Scott says that The "Sunday after the OU game in 1968 in which I had hurt my knee, he had me meet him at the stadium that morning. He had me dress in sweats and grab one of the weight vests and took me out to the team hotel miles north of campus. I was then informed to look him up after I walked back to the the stadium. I didn't wear socks. After about five miles I tried hitching a ride and a player's dad saw me and took me the rest of the way. To my surprise by Monday my knee was better but not the blisters on my sockless feet. Genius I guess."
In Franks Bio housed at the Stark Center there is an insightful point made about Medina. He was "never an advocate for heavy lifting, Medina played an important role in professionalizing the conditioning program for athletes. In addition to starting the first off-season workouts at UT, he also introduced true physical therapy procedures to the UT athletic department. He also brought distinction to the university by serving on two Olympic teams, and he worked with athletes from a wide variety of sports."
Frank passed away in 1989 but his contributions to Longhorn traditions remains a portal to the past that continues to remind Longhorn fans that heritage shapes the present and empowers the future. Frank Medina is a bridge builder connecting the past with the present and the future.
1973 letter to the football team
Joe Samford from the 1973 recruiting class has some comments about Medina's second home
Billy - My wife and I recently stayed at this 100 year old cabin on a bluff overlooking the North Shore of Lake Travis. Very rustic, but very cool.
Very cool because it belonged to Frank Medina and now belongs to one if his daughters - Connie. You can look it up on the Internet at "White Owl".
Frank Medinas contributions to Longhorn traditions represents a portal to the past that reminds Longhorn fans that heritage shapes the present and empowers the future.