The beginning of an era

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Justin Chapman | Echo

The women’s basketball team will be starting a new coaching era next year. The Taylor athletic department announced on April 18 that Jody Martinez will be the new head coach for the Trojans. With Martinez now hired, this makes him the 20th head coach for the women’s basketball program.

Martinez’s tenure will begin May 8. On April 28, he will make a visit to Taylor with his two daughters. The decision to make him the next coach has women’s basketball players and the athletic department excited for the years to come.

“Coach Martinez has a track record of success on the court and a heart for discipleship,” athletic director Kyle Gould said. “He checks every box that we are looking for, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him as our next women’s basketball coach.”

The reaction to the hiring is understandable when people see Martinez’s resume. During his 17 years of head coaching at the NAIA level, he had an overall record of 409–184 with 11 Coach-of-the-Year awards.

He previously was the head coach at Bethel College for 16 years and Southeastern University for one year. During that span, he had at least 20 wins every year except one. He led his teams to eight NAIA National Championship Tournaments and made five Elite Eight appearances.

The past two seasons, Martinez has been an assistant coach at the University of Illinois, a NCAA Division I program. His primary focus there was to develop the post players. However, he and his family are overjoyed that he is now a head coach again.

Martinez visited Taylor recently and met with a few current players. He said that making adjustments goes both ways, as he will have to adjust his coaching style to the players he has and the players will have to adjust to a new coach.

“I think the first team meeting you have you set the tone on the energy and the excitement to be their head coach,” Martinez said. “I think trust and respect is earned, it’s not automatically given.”

Martinez understands he has a successful past, but he has to gain people’s trust today.

Junior Josie Cobb was one of the four players who met with Martinez during his visit. Cobb said she knew within the first five minutes of the meeting that he would be a great addition to the program.

“He can help bring out the potential we have and help put that into action,” Cobb said. “I think he could be exactly what our program needs to bring us to that next level. A lot of the times we would see glimpses this season of how good we could be, but we weren’t consistent.”

The Trojans put up a record of 13–18 this past season, but moments of high standing were apparent amidst a losing season. One of those moments came when the Trojans defeated No. 25 Huntington.

This team is missing steadiness. Martinez brings the hope of more consistent play to a team who has not earned 20 or more wins since the 2012–13 season.

“(Martinez) was very personal, and he emphasized in the meeting that he was going to be interested in our spiritual lives, our athletic lives, our relationships,” Cobb said. “He was going to invest on the court and off the court, and I think that’s really big for us because when there’s chemistry off the court with the team that just translates over onto the court.”

The Trojans can now continue their preparation for next season knowing who their head coach is. Martinez hopes his work ethic will be contagious, especially during summer training and next season’s practices.

“Photograph provided by Fayth Glock”