Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
The gentle giant walked around dwarfing his young female players. The girls are all like daughters to him. They are not his daughters, but he has yelled and coached them like they were. After four years together, he would now turn consoler.
Jaime Martinez knew better than them that this goodbye would be the long goodbye. In fact, it would be his last goodbye. It hurt that the Lady Rockets were right there with the No. 1 team in the state: St. Pius X.
Goddard made a run in the second half, but could not overcome a first-half deficit of three goals. St. Pius X would win 3-1. Martinez consoled his players, hugging them and understanding the finality of losing their last game of the season.
“I told our girls how proud I was of them,” Martinez said. “They left everything out on the field and I could not ask more than that. This is what it feels like to play in the semifinals with everything on the line. It hurts because we had a chance to win.”
While talking to his players Martinez had to stop himself and catch his breath to control his emotions. Because while his students would be graduating or coming back, his life would begin anew in June after 32 years of teaching and coaching. He would forever be linked to the class of 2021. Martinez wanted one more run and he received it. He had the opportunity to go out on his terms in the classroom and as a coach.
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Martinez took both Goddard wrestling and girls soccer to heights never seen before. He helped many wrestlers place at state in all weight classes. He mastered the technique of being a caged lion in the wrestling room and driving himself and wrestlers to their limits. He did that so they knew — when it was the third period and his wrestlers were behind — it was nothing. The real wrestling and fight began as his wrestlers tapped into a reserve that had been harnessed from grueling practices, runs, and more time on the mat. He even had his wrestlers, who are now fathers themselves, bring their kids back to him and see their name on the Wall of Fame.
“I always taught my wrestlers to wrestle their best,” Martinez said. “Especially when they were tired or in the third period. I never wanted them to give up.”
When he decided to retire as the wrestling coach after 28 years, he knew he had soccer to coach. A sport he grew to love. He had his youngest daughter to coach and make memories with. At the top of his memories: Coaching his daughters, Camille and Julie.
He said they were night and day. Jaime Martinez, in his seven years as a soccer coach, learned to be adaptable and kept researching and trying to grow as a coach. Martinez realized that as a coach he didn’t know it all. As a coach, he led Goddard to four consecutive district titles and to the playoffs multiple times. One of the things he is most proud of is his overall record against Roswell, 12-5-1.
He was not afraid to change and move players to different positions on the soccer field if it meant making the team better. After four straight titles, his team finished out of first place. Martinez spent the offseason researching and devising a plan to put the Lady Rockets back on top. They did that by moving key players around. When his teams were hit by the injury bug, he coached them on the fly and they made the playoffs his last two years on the sideline. Martinez was most proud of the fact that he taught his players life lessons about making adjustments when adversity hits and continually moving forward with their best effort and competing.
Martinez, known for coaching wrestling and soccer, also coached football. Another impact felt by Goddard sports was when he lent his talents to coaching track and field for 22 years. Many of the track and field athletes he coached stood on the podium after placing in the top six at state. He helped perfect techniques for throwing the discus, shot put, and javelin. Martinez went from one sport to the other, often to the detriment of his family. Being so dedicated as a teacher and coach often cost him precious time with his family, wife, Stella Martinez, and daughters Camille Martinez and Julie Martinez.
“One of the only regrets I have,” Jaime Martinez said, “is not being there to watch my kids grow up. Other than that, I don’t have a lot of regrets.”
Jaime wanted each student to do their best. If an individual’s best was a three on a scale of one to 10, then that was all he would ask for and expect from that student. If a student was capable of giving 10 and they were only giving an eight, then he would try to draw out the best in that student.
“I told my students and athletes,” Martinez said, “I will more than meet you over halfway, and I will give my best to coach and teach you. But you have to make the effort. There are people who will help you in life if you’re trying, but you have to try.”
In his wrestling room, Jaime Martinez was teaching his kids to be responsible for their lives and the decisions they made. That each action had a consequence, good or bad.
“My high school wrestling coach told me,” Jaime Martinez said. “That always stuck with me. To leave life better than you found it, and to do your best. If you’re a ditch-digger, be the best ditch-digger you can be. Whatever it is, do it to the best of your abilities and do your job right the first time. It didn’t matter what you did in life as long as you were happy and did your best.”
His parents, Fernando and Emily Martinez taught him a work ethic growing up in Oceanside, California. He came to the University of New Mexico on a wrestling scholarship and promptly made All-American in 1985. After graduating, he worked in the Albuquerque Public School system for a year. His wife, Stella Martinez, knew Roswell Independent School District athletic director Don Alsup. Alsup told her to have Jaime Martinez be here on Monday by 8 a.m., and he would have a job. That job lasted until his retirement 32 years later.
The advice Jaime Martinez would give young teachers today is to be all in. For him, it was all about teaching for the love of teaching and helping to educate your students. Times have changed — but, he said, kids are kids.
One of his favorite memories from his time as a wrestling coach was in 1996 or ‘97. There was a backup wrestler that was on the team. Martinez said the kid liked being on the team for five years. Goddard was wrestling a meet at Roswell and they were going to forfeit a match at 112 pounds. They didn’t have a wrestler to wrestle and one of his coaches said to throw his backup wrestler in there. Martinez did, instead of giving up six points. The kid won his match and the wrestling team went crazy and ended up beating Roswell, 54-9. It was the only match the kid ever wrestled.
Jaime would like to thank his wife, Stella, for 31 years of marriage, and his family for putting up with him. He would also like to thank the great wrestling and soccer coaches he has had over his 32 years. Coaches such as Mike Guerrero, Nick Archuleta, George Aho, Paul Lessard, David Fredrick, Keith Munson, Bob Heider, Joe Hardin and Nia Martinez.
With no immediate plans for the future, Martinez wants to take it one day at a time.
“I would like to give back to the community for supporting me all these years,” Martinez said.
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.