Once a Charger, Always a Charger
What do 26 years of memories look like? They look like eight championship balls (seven basketball and one volleyball) neatly arranged in order, multiple plaques and recognitions lining the walls, numerous cassette tapes, VHS tapes and DVD’s with each and every game coached in the last quarter of a century and countless pictures of student-athlete alumni that still keep in touch with a beloved coach.
“Whenever you take a job or start a position, you want to leave it better than when you came. I think I’m leaving with a department and a team in a really good position,” says Martin of his time at Colby-Sawyer. And the memories that line the walls of his office are indicative of this.
Martin remembers the exact day he knew he wanted to pursue a career in coaching. He says, “I was in junior high school and a friend of mine was talking to me in the locker room. He was telling me how someone we knew was going to that ‘coaching college.’ I asked what a coaching college was, and he said, ‘Springfield College. You can go there to learn how to be a coach.’ That’s when I knew I wanted to go to college to become a coach. It was the only college I wanted to go to.”
Graduating from Springfield College in 1982, Martin started his career in Massachusetts at Athol High School working as a science and math teacher, while coaching football, basketball, baseball, track, cross country and volleyball over the four years. He then moved on to neighboring Murdock High School, serving as the physical education teacher and football and baseball coach. From there, Martin moved on to higher education and gained coaching experience as an assistant coach for women’s basketball at both Fitchburg State University and Wagner College before coming to Colby-Sawyer in 1994.
Upon his arrival at CSC, he took on the role as head women’s basketball coach and immediately began working side-by-side men’s head basketball coach, Bill Foti. Foti says, “George and I have been joined at the hip for the past 26 years. As basketball coaches at Colby-Sawyer, we’ve shared the Hogan Center, literally thousands of times. We’ve sat together on hundreds of bus trips. Frankly, it was always easy to work out the logistics for both teams (practice, departure and meal times, etc). This isn’t typical for men’s and women’s basketball coaches to work so easily and collaboratively together. Our working relationship has always been one of mutual respect.”
While at Colby-Sawyer, Martin has been the head women’s basketball coach for 26 years, the head women’s volleyball coach for six years and served as the Athletic Director for the past seven years.
Martin gained the respect of many throughout his tenure at CSC, due to his dedication to the women’s basketball team and his ability to create a premier program in New England. Under his guidance, the Chargers competed in postseason games all 26 seasons and won seven conference championship titles.
Being recognized numerous times, Martin is a 5-time conference Coach of the Year recipient. He also was featured in an article that appeared in Women’s Basketball’s Finest – an NCAA publication - in celebration of the 25th anniversary of women’s athletics at CSC.
Martin’s ability to connect with his student-athletes is what really sets him apart as a one-of-a-kind coach, however. He treats his athletes like family and often stays in touch years after coaching them on the court.
Sara Hammond ’01 says, “I spent two seasons (volleyball and basketball) with Coach Martin in each of my four years at Colby-Sawyer College. That is a lot of van and bus rides together over the years! Coach’s passion, commitment and unwavering dedication to the game was apparent in the way he supported and believed in his teams and players. I have been fortunate enough to stay in touch with him over the years, and he is still a supportive coach (now more of a life coach) and friend to me over 20 years later. He has attended weddings, baby showers and funerals. He’s more than a coach to his players, he created the CSC women’s basketball family that it is today. His dedication to the college and positive impact on his players will never be forgotten. His sacrifices did not go unnoticed and served as an example carried on and evident in the many successes of his players on and off the court.”
Melissa Eckman Binette ’99 says, “Coach Martin has really had a forever impact on my life, through my years at Colby-Sawyer and beyond. He has been there for myself, my teammates and even my family. We were able to experience amazing wins and heartbreaking losses while spending two seasons together from August through March, four years straight! There were long practices, long van rides, and even longer conversations in his office. He always made time for me no matter what. Coach had a way of making me feel important, valued, and instilled in me a confidence that I never knew existed. I still text Coach every year on his birthday. I want to make sure that he knows that I am thinking of him and that he knows how important he is to me. I can’t imagine a Colby-Sawyer without him, but I wish him all the best.”
Former student-athlete and current head coach of the Middlebury College women’s basketball team KJ Krasco ’05 says, “George has been an integral part of my life for nearly 20 years, as a coach and mentor. As a player, I loved and appreciated the opportunity he gave me to play college basketball. Some of my most cherished memories involving the game are those I shared with him and my CSC teammates, including winning the CCC championship at home in 2005. My experiences as a player at Colby-Sawyer and being part of his program opened a door for me to pursue coaching as a profession. I am forever grateful for the friendship and relationship I have built with him both on and off the court and wish him the best of luck in his new venture.”
Martin leaves Colby-Sawyer to start a new role as athletic director for Dean College in Franklin, Mass. He says, “I am looking forward to continuing to have an impact on student athletes on a daily basis, as well as work with some really young, excited and up-and-coming coaches and to mentor them throughout their careers.”
As he departs campus, Martin assures us that this is not goodbye. He says, “I’ll be back. We are in the same conference now as Dean College, so Colby-Sawyer will be down there and I will be up here to watch games.”
Martin may now be a Dean College Bulldog, but to us, he will always be a Charger.