Justin Martin was born and grew up in Key West, graduated from Key West High, then Flagler College in St. Augustine.
After college, he spent three years tending to the family business — commercial fishing — before he took on coaching the Conchs’ girls soccer team.
Now, since June, and at the age of 27, he has become the school’s athletic director, succeeding Sarah Eckert, who has become the Key West volleyball coach.
Several balls had to fall in the right place for Martin to become AD: Kim Butler decided she didn’t want to continue as head coach of the school’s volleyball team. Eckert, who had coached volleyball at several stops before coming to Key West, wanted the volleyball job. That left the athletic director position open.
“They knew I was interested in an administrative job, so I was offered the AD job,” said Martin.
That was in June. To add to the formula, Butler will stay with volleyball as Eckert’s assistant.
But there’s one more piece to the puzzle: If it’s possible, Martin, who played four years of soccer at Key West High, and assisted Scott Paul when Paul was the head coach, wants to stay on as girls’ head soccer coach.
“I would like to,” he said, “but we’ll see. Our principal, Dr. Larry Schmiegel, and I will see if I have enough time to do both. It’ll be a collective decision. What’s best for the school.”
They’ve got time. The pre-season girls soccer game against Seminole isn’t until Nov. 5. The current 17-game schedule begins the following Monday against Palmer Trinity.
“Ideally, I’d like a 20-game schedule,” Martin said.
So more games may be added.
His Lady Conchs had a successful season a year ago, finishing with 8 wins, 5 losses and 3 ties before losing to Gulliver Prep in the state regional semifinals.
Martin has an overall goal of sending his players off to college and last year went 6-for-6 with his seniors. Jenna Domenlech was the only one who went on to play soccer — at Concord University in West Virginia.
“I have a passion for sports,” he admits. “I dream of helping send my players off to college.”
In the meantime, the new AD has been introducing himself and hiring coaches.
Most of the new coaches had already been chosen before Martin came on board. Josh Bassett is the new golf coach. Chris Ellis, who teaches language arts at Horace O’Bryant Middle School, is the new boys basketball coach.
The only opening is cross country. They thought they had the position filled, but the prospect decided against it. Dave Perkins, the track and field coach, is filling in.
The rest of the coaches are in place from a year ago: John Hughes, football; Shonta McLeod, girls basketball; Lori Bosco, swimming; Marc Pierre, boys soccer; Chaz Jimenez, wrestling; Stacey Pallari, weightlifting; Ralph Henriquez Jr., baseball; Jason Garcia, softball; Perkins, track and field; Marisa Giacopuzzi, boys and girls lacrosse; Paul Findlay, boys and girls tennis, and Tiffany Hughes, cheerleading.
That would seem like a full house and Martin believes it is. But he is keeping his mind open.
“The FHSAA has added beach volleyball this year,” he said. “I’m not saying we would add it, not this year.”
But, next year?
This from a man who is trying to see if he has time to be the athletic director and girls soccer coach.