To become an elite athlete or coach takes a great deal of work and dedication, but only a select few can call themselves a Hall Of Famer.
But that is likely where SAIT’s Donovan Martin will soon be heading, as he closes in on 400 career wins in ACAC women’s basketball action.
“I have just always loved the game of basketball since I was little,” Martin said in a recent interview.
“What I love the most about coaching can be summed up with three points; the competition, the challenge, and most importantly the growth of players that come through my system.”
With wins Nov. 16 and 17 over the women’s teams from Keyano and Lakeland colleges, Martin has run his record to 498 career victories as coach of the women’s Trojans squad and before that the Mount Royal College (now university) Cougars.
A home-and-away series Nov. 22 and 24 against the Red Deer College Queens could do the trick for Martin, who has been a winner since his first appearance on the bench, in 1968.
“I think it goes to show the quality of players I’ve had the privilege and honor of coaching,” said Martin.
“You can only do so much from practice and the sideline. In the end the players still have to perform and win the game.”
Martin has already reached one milestone this season, having coached his 500th ACAC game Nov. 10, a mark no one else in league play has come close to.
Now in his sixth year running the women’s basketball program, Martin has his sights set on putting his name in ACAC history.
“Individual records are great, don’t get me wrong, but team awards and championships is what I strive for each time I put a whistle around my neck.”
Martin has collected 17 ACAC medals in his coaching career (seven gold, five silver, and five bronze.)
His best season was in 1999 as a coach of the Mount Royal Cougars going an amazing 27-0 which included a national title.
Martin began his coaching career at a junior high school and moved to college basketball in 1982 at Mount Royal.
“Being a teacher, I always wanted to pass on my knowledge and help others down their own path and learn from the mistakes I’ve made,” he explained.
He sees his role as more than just being a coach in the gym.
Martin has become a role model to all the women who have played for him in his years on the sideline.
“I try and stay in touch with as many players as I can.
“When I have a player come up to me and thank me for a lesson I taught her many years ago, I know I have done my job as a coach but more importantly as a teacher.”
At the start of each season, Martin emphasizes one key point: to give it everything you have, no questions asked.
“When you do this, you can never doubt yourself no matter what the outcome may be,” said Martin.
When asked about retiring, Martin said the thought doesn’t even cross his mind until the end of each season.
“I like to think of this as a year-to-year basis, I know the seasons are long but after the final game of each season I like to evaluate my self and see if I have what it takes for another season of coaching.”
“It would be nice to do some travelling once I have closed this chapter of my life, but I will cross that bridge when the time is right.”