October 24, 2014

Ginda goes Spartan

Kevin McCarthy

New Jersey's loss is California's, make that San Jose State's (SJSU) in particular, gain. The Spartans otherwise would have never known Frank Ginda existed had his family not moved west and now the Pacheco High multi-positional talent is coming to Silicon Valley next year.

photo of Frank Ginda

At 6-foot-1 and 232 pounds, Ginda is being brought in to play inside linebacker. Having played on both sides of the ball, from running back, tight end and quarterback to defensive line and linebacker in his high school tenure, he particularly excels at stuffing opponents. “My best skill is filling the whole and stopping the run. I come fast and serious and approach with nastiness. I love to hit people.”

So why the choice of the Spartans, who reside in the Mountain West Conference? “I liked the way they play,” Ginda explained. “It's close to home and they really coached me up when I was at their camp.”

He was in Coach Ron Caragher's office when the offer came. Caragher, assistant Greg Robinson (the linebacker coach and defensive coordinator) and assistant Andrew Rolin (the running backs coach) were chatting with Ginda when he was asked to join the program. Ginda answered affirmatively. “I just started crying, there were tears in my eyes,” he recalled.

The emotion appeared for multiple reasons. “It's the first full ride in my family,” Ginda said. Earlier, he was receiving interest from Nevada and frankly wondering about his collegiate future. Then he posted his impressive achievements from a football combine he attended and that brought attention from both Air Force San Jose State University. “The defensive coordinator [Robinson] kept visiting” and that snowballed into his invitation and acceptance to play for SJSU.

Ginda is also aces in the classroom, holding a 3.93 grade point average but residing at that lofty level wasn't always so. “I had horrible grades in junior high.” But falling in love with football gave him new incentive to excel and now he is looking to major in business.

Pacheco High Coach David Snapp said this of his senior star: “Frank is a different breed of kid with his intensity and work ethic. He had one goal in mind and a laser focus:  perform in the classroom and on the field in order to get a scholarship.”

His off-season training regimen is one of ultra seriousness, traveling two days a week to Modesto and Merced to do speed training work as well as working out before and after school.

It's also important to mention Ginda's success at running back, like 290 yards in a 2013 Pacheco victory over Central Valley. That season, as a junior, he finished with 1,113 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Regarding leadership, Ginda sees himself performing verbally and by example. “I lean into both. If someone isn't using his full potential, I'll tap them on the butt and tell them they have to pick it up.”

Initially it was baseball for Ginda as his father, besides participating in football, was a prep star who then played minor league baseball.

“But then people were telling me 'you're really aggressive'” Ginda said, and a stint playing flag football turned into Pop Warner participation and now the present.

He cites two as his biggest football influences. “[Retired linebacker] Ray Lewis, I love his motivational speeches before games and [current Carolina Panther linebacker] Luke Kuechly.” The latter led the NFL in tackles as a rookie and was a Pro Bowl selection last season as well as named the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and then AP Defensive Player of the Year.

Ginda's best moment on the field wasn't an individual one but a team effort. “Last year, we beat our crosstown rivals, the big dogs, Los Banos High. It was a big deal for us because we're a five-year-old school and they have been around a long time.” Pacheco won 24-7.

His last words: “Go Spartans.”