Tribute honors retiring Martin

June 11, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

When Eugene "Yogi" Martin sought retirement advice some years ago, the Supervisor of Health Education, Physical Education and Athletics for the Board of Education of Washington County went to the man, Doug Cochrane, who held the job until Martin took over in 1987.

"Eugene asked me, 'How will I know when it's time to retire?' I said, 'You'll know,'" Cochrane said Wednesday night at a retirement tribute dinner for at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel. "He asked me, 'How long will it take to get used to being retired?' I said, 'The first day.'"

For Martin, that day will come in a little less than three weeks.

Martin's last day of work is June 30, putting the final stamp on a resume spanning 38 years and multiple stops as a teacher, coach, official and administrator in the county and Waynesboro, Pa.


"I can't thank enough people for the opportunities I've had," Martin said. "I've worked in all areas of athletics, and that's rounded my career out."

While Martin has been an administrator at the Board for the past 16 years, most of the stories told at Wednesday's surprise tribute stemmed from his days as a physical education teacher and coach at West Junior High School in Waynesboro, North Hagerstown High School and Shepherd College.

Martin was described as intense, persistent, competitive and energetic by speakers.

Peck Purnell, the principal at West Junior High who gave Martin his first physical education job in 1965 shortly after Martin graduated from Shepherd College, recalled a time Martin ran his students three blocks to a nearby athletic field: "They weren't running to his satisfaction, and he said, 'Come on, we're gonna run!' And he turned around and ran into a ... wire connected to a telephone pole."

Ed Coles, a wrestler at North during Martin's time as an assistant wrestling coach from 1969 to 1971, recalled a poem Martin often recited while putting the wrestlers through tough sprints: "When I was young and in my pride, I could grind most anytime. But now that I am old and gray, I can grind but once a day."

In 1977, Martin moved into administrative roles, becoming assistant principal at E. Russell Hicks Middle School, Smithsburg High School and South Hagerstown High School, before taking the supervisor's job at the Board.

In Martin's time at the Board, student participation in athletics in Washington County public schools has risen steadily, from 1,952 in 1987-88 to 3,168 in 2002-03, he said. Prep athletes who graduated in 2002 received almost $900,000 in scholarship money.

"Everything I have done over 38 years has affected kids," Martin said. "Every decision I've made has affected 20,000 kids."

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