The Man is Hernandez


Mani Hernandez

As you most likely have heard, Presentation’s beloved former Spanish teacher and soccer coach, Manuel “Mani” Hernandez, has earned his place in the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame in recognition of his successful soccer career, alongside athletes like the San Jose Sharks’ Owen Nolan. However, the road to Hernandez’s success was anything but easy.

When Hernandez’s parents passed away early in his life, he and his sister moved from hometown Madrid, Spain, to Hayward, Calif. Hernandez’s U. S. soccer career took off when he was scouted by San Jose State University soccer coach Jules Menendez.

In his senior year at SJSU, Hernandez and his fellow Spartans competed in the 1968 NCAA finals, placing as co-champions with another school. Hernandez earned the Hermann Trophy for being recognized as the top collegiate soccer player in the nation that same year.

After playing for the U. S. National Team from 1970 to 1974, Hernandez went on to be one of the first members of the San Jose Earthquakes, scoring the first and second goals in Earthquakes history.  

“It was great to have a local boy score the first goal. It brought much happiness to many fans,” says Hernandez.

Hernandez moved from the Earthquakes to other major league teams, such as the Detroit Lightning and the San Francisco Fog, before retiring to coach high school students. After coaching boys at Leland and Gunderson, he came to Presentation in 1982 to coach soccer and teach Spanish.

Luckily for us, Hernandez stayed with our school and soccer team for a total of 33 years. Perhaps it was because, as Hernandez says, “Girls are much better focused and more emotional. Girls are great thinkers and very analytical. Totally different than boys.”

After leading us to a plethora of championships and titles, and coaching Pres alumnae like Aly Wagner and Danielle Slaton who went on to play for the U. S. National Team, Hernandez retired in 2013 from teaching and in 2015 from coaching. However, he’s not done with soccer altogether.

“I still play. Definitely not as fast as I used to. It is a great game, played by wonderful people,” he says.

As he moved on to the Hall of Fame in November 2015, Hernandez says he brought everyone who helped in his success along with him: “I feel great about it because with my induction, in my mind, they also inducted all of the wonderful coaches and players I have come across in my career. I like that people associate my name to Presentation High.”

And for those Panthers who want to pursue soccer past high school, Hernandez says, “I believe every player, regardless of their skill level, should want to play or coach at the national level. It takes a great desire and hard work to get good at it.”

Mani Hernandez not only helped amplify the importance of and affection for soccer in our nation, but also helped Presentation win championship titles and build up our players for more than three decades.

And what was in it for him?

Hernandez says, “My best memory as a soccer player is that I have been able to watch the growth of the game in this country. There was a time when I thought it would never happen. You can feel it, watch it and read about it.“