A longtime Kansas high school soccer coach passed away just weeks after his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer became public.
As reported by the Manhattan Mercury, Frank Alonso was in his 19th season with the Manhattan (Kan.) High School boys soccer team when it was announced October 15 that he was suffering from pancreatic cancer. The coach’s cancer spread rapidly, moving from his pancreas to his liver, and while his family was investigating potential clinical trials for him to take part in, he was never able to make a recovery. He was just 52 years old.
In 13 seasons as Manhattan’s head coach, following six as an assistant, Alonso built deep bonds with the Manhattan soccer community. In the three weeks since his diagnosis a GoFundMe crowdfunding page to defray the cost of his treatment raised more than $45,000.
There was little question that Alonso’s sudden diagnosis sparked a hugely dedicated drive for a state title. After an emotional senior night victory, Manhattan embarked on a run all the way to the state title match, even though Alonso’s health had so deteriorated at that point that he couldn’t attend the match.
While the Manhattan squad rallied around calls of “For Frank,” to inspire their best performances, they came up just short in the state final, with Olathe East (Kan.) High School taking home the title with a 3-0 victory.
“He’s just always been a really powerful factor for us,” senior forward Max Lansdowne told the Mercury after the team’s semifinal victory. “Just not having him here is so foreign for us. Even if we don’t think it is, it’s in the back of our minds somewhere.
“It’s just tough for us.”
That difficulty is certainly magnified now.