Martinez talks about decision to give up coaching wrestling
It’s perhaps fitting that when it came time to say goodbye to his favorite sport, Greg Martinez wrestled with the decision.
After all, Martinez had been wrestling almost his entire life, having joined the youth wrestling program as a grade-schooler, following in the footsteps of three older brothers, Gabe, Fred and Johnny, all three renowned grapplers.
Junior high and high school wrestling came later, as did a career in coaching that started as a youth wrestling coach while he was still in high school.
After he got back into town from college in the early 2000s, Martinez – by then a teacher – served as a volunteer coach, junior high coach, and assistant high school coach before replacing his mentor Manny Ybarra as head coach at Quincy High School 10 years ago.
“He had a vision and knew I wanted to be a wrestling coach,” Martinez said. “We kind of thought the same way, so he felt comfortable handing the position over to me.”
That decade-long coaching journey came to an end when Martinez resigned as QHS boys wrestling coach earlier this spring.
“There’s never a right time,” he said. “It’s never easy.”
Even after he made the decision, his wife, Abby, quizzed him.
“Are you sure?” she asked. “We can wait a little bit longer.”
It took Greg several months to find the courage to leave the wrestling room behind, but in truth, Martinez said the sport he loves was taking too big a toll on his family.
“From December to February there’s usually three days a week that I wouldn’t see my kids,” he said. “Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, I would wake up and go to school and would not get home until after the kids were in bed.”
In addition, his career goal of someday becoming a school administrator got a big boost during the 2018-19 year. Martinez has served as dean of students in two Quincy elementary schools this year and will be the dean of students at Quincy Middle School next year.
The year away from the classroom and inside an office reinforced Martinez’ belief that his career dream is on the right path. The dream has a price, and that price is hanging up the whistle.
“I love working with teachers helping them solve problems, and I love working with our challenging youth to try and help them quote-unquote see the light,” Martinez said. “And it’s hard to be really good at that and be a really good head coach.”
Telling his assistants was tough, as was telling athletic director Mark Kondo. Nothing was tougher, Martinez said, than telling his athletes he was done.
“There was a little bit of crying, mostly on my part,” he said.
In time, he will probably return to coaching, but at the youth level, to bring the program, as he said, “to what it used to be” and to help coach his son, a youth wrestler. Lastly, he wants to help complement the work of Ross Kondo at the junior high team and of Martinez’ successor at QHS.
“I really believe we have the structure, the makeup and the community support in place to be a top-10 team at state routinely,” Martinez said. “We just have to make sure we have a piece in place at every level.”
By Sebastian Moraga, For the Post-Register