Winter 1998

Dukes Digest

Soccer Coach Tom Martin Logs 300th Win

Saturday, Nov. 8, 1997
JMU 5, Penn State 0

On the final day of the 1997 regular season, Tom Martin celebrated a milestone very few in his profession have enjoyed. With the Dukes' 5-0 soccer win over the Penn State Nittany Lions, Martin registered his 300th collegiate coaching victory.

"When I was coming out of college, there was this guy down at Lynchburg College, Bill Schellenberger, who was being recognized nationally for his 300th win," says Martin, who began his coaching career at Tri State in Angola, Ind., in 1977. "When you start out coaching and think about 300 wins, it's a benchmark because you've been in it for an awful long time or you've been pretty successful or a combination of both," says Martin, who never expected to see the 300-win mark.

"Maybe every two or three years you think about those kind of numbers, because when you attend the national coaches' convention they always honor people when they get their 100th win. The list is a decent length of people that stay in it long enough to get 100. It's quite a bit shorter when you get to 200. You start getting to 300 and it gets real short."

"I stayed in school to get my doctorate so that I wouldn't be coaching this long," says Martin. "But, I really enjoy what I'm doing."

Martin was hooked by success early in his career. He directed Tri State to a 5-4-1 mark as a rookie head coach and one year later arrived on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan. He coached the Bobcats to back-to-back National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national championships in 1984 and 1985. He was named the NAIA Coach of the Year in 1982, 1984 and 1985 and was honored as the national coach of the year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America in 1984 and 1985. These are but a few of the honors he won while with the Bobcats.

After eight seasons in Buckhannon, W.Va., Martin wasn't through with coaching, but he and his wife, Cherylen, were looking for a change of scenery. It was the birth of their son, Sean, and the appeal of the Shenandoah Valley that guided the Martins to JMU.

"When Sean was born, we wanted to be in a location where we would be comfortable in terms of the education and a good place to raise a family. This job opened up and it was the kind of place that we were looking for."

The JMU program has been successful since Martin's first year with the Dukes in 1986. That year he earned CAA Coach of the Year honors after guiding JMU to a 12-3-3 record and its first winning season in eight years.

Martin earned CAA coaching honors again in 1989 following his team's 15-1-3 campaign. JMU's only loss that year was in overtime to eventual NCAA champion Virginia. That season Martin was also voted ISAA/Met Life South Region Coach of the Year and Virginia Division I Coach of the Year.

In 1992 the Dukes climbed to fourth in the Soccer America rankings, won their first CAA tournament title and advanced to the NCAA tournament. Martin was again honored as CAA Coach of the Year and Virginia Division I Coach of the Year after his 1993 Dukes won another CAA title and again qualified for the NCAA tournament. JMU, appearing in the CAA finals for the third straight year, was the first team in the history of the league to complete regular-season play unbeaten (7-0-0).

The 1994 Dukes won their third straight CAA tournament and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals. It took a loss to eventual NCAA champion Virginia in front of a record crowd of 7,807 to end JMU's stellar season. JMU returned to the NCAA quarterfinals in 1995. Soccer News named Martin its South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year. A year later the Dukes received another NCAA tournament bid after playing in the CAA title game for the fifth time in six years.

"Every now and then I still think about maybe getting back into just teaching or administration, but I keep coming back to coaching, which, the way I look at it, a lot of it is teaching anyway," Martin says. "You've got to get kids to put team success ahead of personal success and how to go about achieving that is teaching in itself. The intricacies of the game of soccer is all about teaching. Soccer is not a coaches' game on game day. You see the fruit of your labor in the game when the kids are making good decisions.

"Working with young people is great," he adds. "I get a real charge out of players that come back to campus maybe eight or 10 years and when they see things in a different light. Sports is a microcosm of society. The kids get a lot of things from athletics that prepare them for the real world, but they may not have a clue about recognizing it at the time they are here."

The 1997 Dukes finished 12-5-2 and ended their season with a 1-0 loss to VCU in the CAA quarterfinals.

Playbook Joe "Spanky" McFarland was named the fifth head coach in the history of the JMU baseball program in October. He coached the last seven seasons at Northern Illinois, which reinstated baseball in 1991 after discontinuing the program in 1982. He led NIU to the Midwestern Conference regular-season and tournament titles and into NCAA play in 1996 and to third-place league finishes in 1995 and 1997.

McFarland has coached more than 50 pitchers who signed professional contracts, including Kevin Brown of the 1997 World Series Champion Florida Marlins. He has written pitching books, Developing Pitchers and Coaching Pitchers.

The Dukes will return six starters, including Aaron Sams, among 18 letter winners from last year's 31-26 team. The CAA championship tournament will be held at Grainger Stadium,Kinston, N.C., May 12-16. Other championships: The men's swimming and diving team will undertake the quest for its seventh consecutive CAA title, and the women will seek to get back to the top Feb. 18-21 at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. The men's and women's CAA basketball tournament is slated for Feb. 25-March 1 at the Richmond Coliseum. The Dukes will battle for the CAA wrestling title March 7 at Old Dominion.

The Dukes will defend their 1996 CAA women's lacrosse title April 17-19 at the University of Richmond. The tournament will be part of the CAA Spring Sports Festival. The men's and women's tennis, golf, and track and field champions will also be determined during the festival.

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