Remembering Coach Frances Stirman by Chris Edwards & Rene Sepulveda Authors of Coach Robert Sepulveda The Early Days Book Series
Affectionately known as Fran, or Coach Fran by many Alamogordo Tiger Alumni, Frances Stirman passed on November 9th, 2020. She was born June 30, 1938, in Portales, New Mexico.
After a successful college career from Eastern New Mexico University where she was an award winning bowler, she relocated to Alamogordo to teach physical education and coached Girls Basketball and assisted with Track & Field. She coached and taught at Alamogordo public schools for 25 years.
Coaching the GAA programs beginning in the late 50s, Fran Stirman began at Chaparral Junior High before ultimately becoming the Alamogordo Varsity Basketball Coach when GAA was phased out and Girls Interscholastic play was launched as per of Title IX.
In the late 60s and early 70s as part of GAA, Fran Stirman assisted by Pat Hedrick and Marilyn Sepulveda led the GAA Team and Basketball Day Tournaments at the Junior High and Mid High.
During the late 60’s and early 70’s Fran Stirman was active in and coached multiple sports and participated in and led a variety of teams to victory.
A February 6, 1964 article references Fran Stirman in Women’s Basketball League action , “The Rebels defeated the Pearlettes 62 to 2, with Fran Stirman hooping 25 to lead the scoring.”
The Alamogordo News reports, May 25, 1967, “Fran Stirman was elected to the position of treasurer in the Women’s All Varsity Bowling League, after the trophies were handed out to winners of the 35 week competition.” She was highlighted by the Alamogordo Women’s Softball league in an August 1970, Alamogordo Newspaper article as, “Fran Stirman fanned 10…and added another win,” that same season in another article from 1970 she is listed,as being “named to the Women’s All Star Team of the Alamogordo Women’s Softball League” along with fellow teachers, Nancy Collins and Mary Sittle.
Fran Stirman was one of the Alamogordo Tiger girls pioneer coaches, in coaching the first Girls Varsity Basketball Team post Title IX implementation, as an interscholastic sports team from 1974 through 1982. Interscholastic school funded girls’ athletic programs did not get underway until 1974, when under the direction of Athletic Director Glen Markham the teams were formed in volleyball, basketball, track, and tennis. The first Head girl’s coaches were Volleyball, Debra Scott, Basketball, Fran Stirman, Track, Marilyn Sepulveda, Tennis, Kathy Price.
She was assisted in Girls Basketball by Coach Marilyn Sepulveda and Coach Dan Columbus. When not coaching basketball Coach Stirman assisted Head Girls Track and Field Coach Marilyn Sepulveda to win multiple Girls Track and Field District & State trophies.
During the 1975 New Mexico State Girls Track & Field competition the Alamogordo Tiger girls placed 2nd in the state track meet where over 700 girls competed. Head Girls Track and Field Coach Marilyn Sepulveda assisted by Assistant Track Coach Fran Stirman and others came within a few points of the state title. Clovis was in 1st Place and Alamogordo scored a 2nd Place Red State Trophy with Del Norte in 3rd Place. This was the first state trophy of any girls’ sports team for Alamogordo. This was the first Girls Trophy in State Competition but not to be the last to be won under the leadership of Marilyn Sepulveda and assisted by Fran Stirman, and other partner coaches in track and field. The team compiled 519 points in 6 meets, racked up four 1st Place meet trophies and 2 second place meet trophies including the state meet trophy.
As the Head Girls Basketball Coach she excelled and was recognized around the state for crafting competitive teams. Her girls were loyal fighters and always gave their all for Coach Fran. By 1979 under the direction of Fran Stirman the Alamogordo girls’ basketball team had won district 5 times and finished second once and had qualified for the 4th time in 5 years for the state competition. Alamogordo placed Second in the State in 1978 with a 26-3 season losing the 1st Place State Title 56 to 48 to Eldorado. This was the first Girls State Basketball Trophy for Alamogordo.
The Tiger Girls under Coach Stirman continued a tradition of excellence. For Coach Fran Stirmans’ final year as coach they proceeded to the state playoffs again in 1982 ranked #4 in the state by the AP. In a remarkably competitive game the Tiger Girl’s in the final minutes of play with Hobbs had 3 girls foul out. With only 3 minutes left in play the Tigers were defeated in the quarterfinals.
Fran Stirman stepped down as Alamogordo Girls Basketball Coach after the 1981/82 season handing the team to her assistant Coach Dan Columbus.
Fran Stirman set the pace in the history of Alamogordo girls sports as a team coach that was an ally and a team player with the other coaches. She was a strong ally to Head Track and Field Coach Marilyn Sepulveda and to other female coaches that grew into their roles with Fran Stirman as a friend, mentor, and ally to their success.
Fran had several hobbies in addition to being active in sports, she cared for many cats and dogs. She also did home canning, often with Marilyn Sepulveda. Both entered their goods into competition at the local fair. Fran won awards in the 80s for her beets, string beans and bread and butter pickles.
After retirement from 1982 till recent years, Fran Stirman continued to remain active and demonstrated in addition to her skills in Basketball, Track & Field, Softball and Bowling she was an avid golfer and a member of the Alamogordo Women’s Golf Association.
A tournament she participated in in April of 1996 she ranked 1st Place in the Blind Hole results of 9 holes competition placing 1st with a score of 22, in the 18 Hole partners competition with golfing partner Lou Sitton she placed 2nd. In the Ralph Sutton Invitational Golf Tournament in February 2003 partnered with Lou Sitton in the second flight they ranked 2nd Place and in the 9 Hole Low Net Par competition she ranked 2nd place as well. Fran Stirman continued for the next several years getting media mentions for her skills on the golf links.
Fran Stirman was an active member of the Retired Teachers Association and one that loved a variety of dogs and cats for which she cared for, until her final days.
Fran Stirman will be remembered as a pioneer coach from the early days of girl’s interscholastic sports, a friend, fierce competitor, and a mentor to many with a positive influence that will be remembered for generations of athletes, students, and friends.