A living legend steps down

To coach in any program at St. Mark’s for any amount of time is a marker of one’s integrity and passion for a sport. But, Corindo Martin has taken that one step further. Through 34 years of service to the soccer program and 28 as the varsity head coach, Martin has made his mark on the school’s athletics – and now, he’s taking an earned step down.
LOOKING BACK Martin looks off towards the soccer field, sporting his iconic soccer jacket on the bleachers at Clark and Norma L. Hunt Stadium. Martin coached in front of packed bleachers here for 28 years as the varsity head coach. Martin coached here for the longest in varsity soccer, but has also coached volleyball at the school.
LOOKING BACK Martin looks off towards the soccer field, sporting his iconic soccer jacket on the bleachers at Clark and Norma L. Hunt Stadium. Martin coached in front of packed bleachers here for 28 years as the varsity head coach. Martin coached here for the longest in varsity soccer, but has also coached volleyball at the school.

The distinct and boisterous voice of Corindo Martin will soon be confined within the walls of Centennial Hall instead of the soccer field or locker room each winter.

After 28 years, Martin has decided to step down from coaching the Lions varsity soccer team to focus on his role as a math teacher at the school.

Through Martin’s lengthy tenure here, he has become ingrained within the school’s culture. He’s full of valuable lessons that have become part of his coaching style.

“I always tell the boys that wherever we go, we always leave it better than it was when we found it,” Martin said. “And so in retrospect, that’s what I told the boys. I said, ‘I hope that I have left the program better than it was when I got here’.”

Martin serves as an advisor and frequents the Pecos wilderness trip as a group leader in addition to his coaching and teaching roles.

“Mr. Martin’s an example of the ‘triple threat’ in school: teaching, coaching and camping,” Headmaster David Dini said. “Taking on a variety of responsibilities is something that we care greatly about at St. Mark’s. It’s something we believe in heavily because you want the people that are coaching you in a particular sport to also interact with you in other contexts.”

Dini also believes that Martin’s work in building up the soccer program is driven by his ability to engage with his duties.

“He’s got incredible passion for the game of soccer, and he’s got a deep commitment to every student-athlete in his care,” Dini said. “Certainly being competitive and putting an excellent team on the field is important to him, and to us, but he’s invested in every member of that team in helping them become their best self.”

Martin’s impact on the school’s soccer program is undeniable. Whether it’s the 12 players he’s coached who have gone on to play at a collegiate level, or the 14 SPC tournament finishes in fourth place or higher, Martin’s tenure has elevated the program.

But, the team’s success wasn’t always constant. Some years, the team wouldn’t place well or go very far in the SPC tournaments. Regardless of the team’s form, however, Martin’s experiences were still valuable due to the exemplary qualities exhibited throughout by those Marksmen.

“I remember 2005 to 2008 as a period, we didn’t win in those years,” Martin said. “But I have some of the fondest memories of my time coaching at St. Mark’s in that group because we were always a team that was constantly improving, and the guys that I worked with were striving so hard. What we didn’t have in talent, we had in integrity and character.”

That focus on integrity and responsibility has driven Martin to the longest tenure of any SPC soccer coach and the longest tenure in a single sport as a Lions head coach. In fact, Martin has coached a St. Mark’s soccer team during each of his 34 years at 10600 Preston Road as a math teacher – six as the middle school coach, and 28 at the varsity level.

Martin’s time at the helm of one of the premier sporting programs at the school has affected him massively, with multiple different aspects of the job bringing unique challenges.

“The emotional part is huge, and the mental part of being able to keep that energy going is the second aspect,” Martin said. “Planning, doing your tactics and carefully thinking about how best to utilize the talent you have. The third part is the physical part. And that’s one of the areas where it has gotten harder. I was in my 20s when I started at St. Mark’s, and I’m now in my 60s. So I don’t have quite the same stamina and energy at 61 that I had at 27.”

So, while that time has been both beneficial and exhausting to him, Martin thinks it is the right moment to focus his efforts on other endeavors in his life.

“I’ve never not coached,” Martin said. “It is a huge time commitment. I can focus a little bit more on my classes. I have some goals that involve things like the AP curriculum, and just revamping some of our math curriculum. And I can focus more attention on those kinds of things and then look for other opportunities outside of school or do other things that I need to do – like spending more time with my family.”

The idea came near the end of last school year, when Martin began to reevaluate his level of commitment and ability to continue as the head coach of the soccer team.

“I remember the catalyst for it was probably our end of the year meetings last year as the faculty closed – the culmination of the school year,” Martin said. “And it was at the end of that meeting that it really hit me: maybe it was time to reconsider whether or not I can (continue to coach at the same level.)”

After conversations with his family and peers throughout the previous fall and winter, Martin went to see Dini to discuss his retirement from the soccer program just a day after his team battered Oakridge, 5-0.

“Very few people knew,” Martin said. “Mr. Dini knew, (athletic director Sean Lissemore) knew and (math department chair Shane May) knew, because these are the people who I have to report to. I had spoken with (assistant varsity soccer coach Jay Vuitch ’05 – I think secretly he was hoping that I would change my mind.”

Because of the emotional nature of his decision, Martin made the sacrifice of not telling his team once he knew he would be stepping down. With the SPC tournament approaching, he didn’t want to hurt his team’s stellar camaraderie or take attention away from their achievements.

“I didn’t want to add any pressure or any emotion to the situation,” Martin said. We’re playing for St Mark’s and in many ways, we’re playing for our seniors; it’s their last hurrah, right? Let’s have them go out well.”

Despite the team’s disappointing 3-2 loss as the one seed to the eight seeded St. Andrew’s in the quarterfinals of the SPC tournament, they were able to turn around their momentum. They won their last two games against St. John’s and John Cooper by scores of 1-0 and 4-2 to secure fifth place.

After that fifth-place matchup and victory, Martin made the announcement to an emotional locker room.

“I just said ‘the last order of business is to let you know that I have coached my 661st game, my last game as the varsity coach for St. Mark’s’ and that I was stepping down,” Martin said. “I was really adamant about letting them know that this decision was made on the 31st of January when I met with Mr. Dini and not in that emotional moment in February, because I didn’t want them to think that this in any way reflected their performance.”

This announcement was made especially tough due to the relationships Martin has formed with his players, both during and after their time playing for him.

“I’m going to miss the time with the players,” Martin said. “The time out there with the them is golden. The part I’m going to miss the most is just my interactions; some of the best relationships that I’ve developed as an adult have been with my former players. That doesn’t happen everywhere. I’m really lucky to be at a place like St. Mark’s where I have those relationships and that, by and large, is what I’m gonna miss most.”

That commitment is one of the main reasons Martin has remained so dedicated to his team for the better part of three decades.

“As their coach, I tell them, ‘if I’m in for a penny, I’m in for a pound’,” Martin said. “I have to be the one who sits there and says, ‘look, if I’m asking this much of a commitment from you, then I have to be the same’.”

The level of engagement and dedication that Martin brought to the job is something that he hopes the next coach can bring to the table, continuing the legacy of motivators and dedicated people in that role.

“I hope that whoever the next person is is as committed and as passionate and as invested in the program as I was,” Martin said. “Whatever my shortcomings are – and there are plenty of them – I’ve never had someone who said I wasn’t passionate about coaching soccer at St. Mark’s.”

Varsity soccer captain and senior Reed Sussman knows this passion firsthand. He’s played all four years of high school on Martin’s varsity squad and has become a star and a leader on the team.

“I’m grateful for the way he invests himself,” Sussman said. “If his wife wants to take a winter vacation, he says, ‘No, I gotta stay close to the boys’. He really helps us figure out how to become better men. At the end of the day, sure, he coaches us in soccer, but he also really coaches us as men and people.”

Potentially Martin’s most valuable role in the soccer progam isn’t that of a master tactician, a motivator or a manager, but as a mentor.

“He has these lessons that he just keeps saying and he leads by example with these ideas,” Sussman said.

According to Vuitch, his former player and current college, Martin’s able to inject his passion into his training sessions and everyday work.

“I previously worked for Coach Martin as a counselor at his soccer summer camps, but it was a big change to take a role helping with the SM varsity team,” Vuitch said. “It’s been a thrill, and soccer season is once again my favorite time of the year — in no small part thanks to being around Cory six days a week.”

Vuitch, who played under Martin during his time at the school, can attest to the connection that Martin is able to form with players and colleagues alike.

“He’s still a wealth of quotes and lessons, but he’s also an incredibly dear friend,” Vuitch said.   

As Martin moves on from the soccer team, he’s grateful for the time he was able to spend with the boys he coached in different contexts.

“Yes, I’m their soccer coach,” Martin said. “But in so many of the cases, with the boys that I’ve had, I’m so much more. Whether it’s their calculus teacher, their advisor, or even their Pecos leader. That’s the beauty of St. Mark’s – there are all these different outlets where you get to know the boy better and they get to know you better.”

Looking back on his time as a coach, Martin leaves satisfied with his accomplishments at the helm of the program.

“It’s been a blast,” Martin said. “Coaching at St. Mark’s has been both the most rewarding and the most challenging experience of my life. When you consider doing that while you’re also being a full time teacher, it’s a lot, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

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