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Martin's lasting impressions on his players
Photo courtesy of Painted Barn Media - Gooby Martin gives a hug to Rhealee Johnson before the region final last year. - photo by Geoff Griffin

To go along with the coaching spotlight about lifelong Pioneer Gooby Martin, Standard sports editor Jeffery Simmons reached out to several past Lady Pioneers to ask them about their former coach and the memories they shared with him. The following is a compilation of their responses:

Abby Hutchins, class of 2016

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Photo provided Abby Hutchins will never forget the hug she got from Gooby Martin after hitting a home run in 2015 against Stone Memorial.
I’ll never forget the night we were at Stone Memorial for a district game in 2015 - my junior year season. We had gotten down by several runs late in the game. I stepped up to the plate to face a new relief pitcher with bases occupied. The first strike I got, I hit a homer to bring us back into the lead. After I stepped on home, he embraced me and said “Job, Abbz. I’m so proud of you!” We kept with the momentum and won that game by several runs.

He was always the first one out of the dug out to give me a big hug, fist bump, or congratulate me after a home run or a major play. Coach was always so proud of us in every little accomplishment we made. He truly cares about his players and who they are as people. In all my years playing for him, he has instilled in me a greater work ethic, humility, passion and drive for whatever I tackle in life. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without his great influence. Thank you, Coach Goob!

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Photo provided - Many of his former players consider him a father figure, but Bailey Martin truly did get to play for her dad. Martin graduated in 2016 after playing for Gooby at WCHS and WCMS.
Bailey Martin, class of 2016

I may be biased, but my dad was the best coach I have ever had. He always pushed me to be the best player and person I could be on and off the field. After each game, it would most likely be him and I in the dugout and we would talk about the game, how I played and I mostly asked tips about how I could have made a play on the field better.

Lindsey Cox, class of 2016

Gooby was one of those coaches everyone wishes they could have. He always had each person’s best interest in mind and knew exactly what each person needed. He pushed me to be the best I could be ever since middle school.

Gooby could always joke around with us but he also wasn’t afraid to tell us when we needed an attitude adjustment. I will forever be grateful for the support and love Gooby has put into me over the years. He always supported me in whatever I did.

I remember seeing him at my soccer games and just showing support for other things we were involved in. Gooby taught me more than just softball. He taught me how to overcome challenges, leadership, to push myself, to face my fears and to finish what I started. Those are things that I will carry with me the rest of my life. I will forever be grateful for the things he has taught me and for being one of the best coaches I have ever had.

Ty Ramirez, class of 2016

I have a lot of memories with Gooby - not only being my coach but also like another dad to me. He was my coach for my whole middle school career and half of my high school so I’ve learned, laughed and cried a lot with Gooby as my coach.

My favorite coaching memory I think I have of Gooby was when I was a junior in high school. The team was headed to play a “friendly” pre-season game against Siegel. The year before the Stars had won a state championship and (they were) looking to defend their title. I also get those butterflies before any game I had, but this one especially. I mean c’mon, it was Siegel.

We arrive at Siegel and everyone was pretty worked up except Gooby. He was goofing with us per usual but he also kept saying we are going to play the ball we know and make the little plays and minimize little mistakes and it would all be OK in the game.

Emotions were still running high especially the closer we got to game time. Gooby looked at me and told me “C’mon Ty get them up”. That was a moment I realized Gooby trusted me and depended on all us to be there for each other.

The game went on scoreless. Erin Hollis pitched probably the best game I’ve ever seen and our defense was thriving. We hit the seventh inning and we get a few people on base but couldn’t advance. Their turn to hit - we get the first out and, as we knew, it was the biggest one. We get another - two outs.

This girl steps to the plate and she has struck out every time Erin pitched to her. So we have two strikes, two outs and no one on base. We shouldn’t be worried.

On the last pitch Erin would throw, this girl hits a drop ball in the dirt and golfs it over the fence. Siegel wins 1-0. The whole team was devastated. We made the plays Gooby told us to do, we encouraged each other the whole game even through the minor injuries - We were a team.

Gooby talked to us after the game as always and he was rather happy. Of course we lost and no one likes to lose, but I think Gooby was proud because we were coachable. Everything he told us to do we did. We made the small plays, we stayed confident, we persevered throughout the game.

Gooby relied on teamwork primarily and that’s what I admired about him. We were a family and no one should be left out because that missing piece would be essential to keep things running efficiently. We had major victories and also had some of the worst games we ever played but I think if it weren’t for that game at the beginning of our season some of us would not have been as close as we were that season and, to be honest, the rest of our lives.

Gooby was a coach on and off the field and that’s something I will always remember about Gooby.

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The 2016 softball team featured many seniors who played for Gooby Martin at WCHS and WCMS, while the younger players on the team went on to win a district regular season title (2017), district tournament title (2018) and region championship (2019).

Madison Mason, class of 2017

It was a privilege to play for someone who knew so much about the sport. He himself went so far in baseball. I also loved the fact that he watched me grow from playing for him in middle school to playing my senior year of high school. I’ll never forget him saying “tree” whenever Nick would hit us a fly ball.

(He’s) probably one of my favorite coaches I’ve ever had. Most of us grew up with his daughter Bailey so he was like our softball dad.

Skyler Youngblood, class of 2017

Gooby is one of my biggest role models! It takes a special person to coach a bunch of girls and he did it with ease. Every day when we showed up to the field for practice Gooby was always there to greet us with a huge smile and a big hug. He was always there to cheer us on, laugh with us, give advice and help us get better at the game we all love.

Thank you Gooby for all the years of coaching, encouragement, laughter and dedication you have given to the Lady Pioneers. It was an honor to have you as a coach!

Hope Mullican, class of 2018

There are so many good things to say about Gooby. He always had the team’s best interest at heart. He pushed us to be the best we could be. He pushed us to work hard every day but he also knew when we needed a pizza day or needed to fight it out in a football game because everyone knows with 18-plus girls together there’s going to be some arguments.

He was someone we could go to if we needed anything. He supported us in more than just softball. I remember he would come to some volleyball games.

Some of my favorite memories are from before practices would start. We would all just sit in the field house with the coaches and just talk. It was definitely a blessing to have a coach you can talk to. I will always be thankful for my 7 years with Gooby and Nick.

Kyra Hillis, class of 2018

Coach Gooby was my coach for seven years and I am so grateful for them. He was a constant for all of us girls, always motivating us to be the best - in softball and outside of it. Coach was the best and taught me more than just the game. As for a favorite memory, there are so many it’s hard to pick just one, but I promise there was never a dull moment with him around!

Lexie Chadwell, Class of 2018

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Photo courtesy of Painted Barn Media - Gooby chats with 2018 senior Lexie Chadwell during a game. Chadwell considers her former softball coach a "father figure." - photo by Geoff Griffin
I’ve been very blessed to have Gooby in my life for as long as I can remember. He plays many roles in my life whether that’s a coach, role model or a father figure. I owe a lot of my success in this sport to him.

The dedication he has to the program and the girls that are a part of it is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. He’s the first one there and the last one to leave. If I needed help he’d find the time to help me no matter what day or what time it was.

He puts his best nine on the field no matter who you are. I think that sets a tone within the girls. You got to earn your spot - who you are doesn’t provide you a spot in the lineup.

My freshman season of college ball wasn’t my best by far. Every time I called him to ask what I could do to fix things, he’d answer or I’d come home and he’d help me. He is the most dependable, dedicated, selfless, loving and determined coach I’ve ever had.

Defense is my strong suit and I owe my success to him and Nick Cantrell. The patience they had with me and the willingness to break things down and to give me the extra reps made me who I am. I could never thank either one of them enough for all that they have done for me since the beginning. I only hope to be as good of a coach one day.

To Gooby and Nick, thank you both from the bottom of my heart.

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Gooby Martin celebrates with Ashton Whiles after a home run. Whiles became the all-time leader in home runs while playing four seasons for Martin.
Ashton Whiles, Class of 2019

Warren County Softball has shaped me in so many ways. Throughout the games, practices and tournaments, one thing never differed - coach Martin teaches his players not just physical skills, but also great work ethic. Many times throughout my years with him he’d say, “Do it right or don't do it at all.” I feel like this is a great thing to have, not only in athletics but also it applies daily. I’ll always be thankful for the years I played at Warren County and having coach Martin as a coach.

Emily Mikkola, Class of 2019

Gooby Martin gives Emily Mikkola a hug at a banquet held last spring. Mikkola says Gooby is "hands down one of the best coaches I ever had."

Gooby is hands down one of the best coaches I have ever had. He’s sincere when it comes to the game, yet he makes every day worth it and full of fun. He expects the most out of his girls and will do anything for us.

There are countless memories I have of Gooby, including him wiping out in left field one day at practice but there is no way I can pick my favorite. With him and his equally awesome sidekick Nick (Cantrell), I wouldn’t be half the ball player and person I am today. Plus, I wouldn’t have my nickname (Mik).

Thank you Gooby for everything. I love you.

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Photo courtesy of Painted Barn Media - Gooby Martin chats with Hailey Wood, who won District 6AAA MVP under his guidance. - photo by Geoff Griffin
Hailey Wood, class of 2019

My favorite thing about Gooby isn’t a specific memory but just the fact that he cared so much for everyone. I always felt like I had someone to confide in if I needed to and also I loved the values like hard work and “Do it wrong, do it all day long. Do it right, do it light.”

He instilled this in not me but every girl that stepped foot in that program. Also, he is one of my favorite coaches and I had the best four years of my life playing for him.

Calyn Damon, class of 2020

Gooby is a great coach and he really does care about all of us and pushes us to do our best at everything we do. He doesn't ever let us half butt it.

One day before practice he was telling us when he yells at you, don’t take it personal. He said, "I yell at ‘Nona (Aleya Esparza) and Rip (Damon’s nickname) all the time, but at the end of the day they know I still love them."

He has taught us a lot about life too. He is one of my favorite people and I will always look up to him. He puts a lot of time into us and the field, keeping everything looking good. It's so weird not seeing him and the rest of the girls. I miss him and the crazy stuff he says. I'm so glad he was my coach all four years - he has done a lot of great things for the program.

MaKenna Mason, class of 2020

Gooby has done a lot of things for me. He’s gave me challenges and life lessons throughout my four years. One of our senior goals this year was to make it to the regionals again. We would be the first senior class to go to the regionals four times. I hope we get to play to make that happen. One of his quotes he always said to me was, “Don’t think about it, just do it.” I’m going to take his advice with me to the next level at Motlow.

Savannah Cox, class of 2020

Gooby always made sure everyone felt welcome, from starting softball as a freshman all the way through senior year. He always pushed us hard even when we didn’t want to. He made us believe in ourselves - that we could do it. Whenever we thought we couldn’t do it, he made sure we knew we could do everything and anything if we try our hardest and believe in ourselves.

He poured his heart into softball, all the way from drills on the field to playing music in the field house. One of my favorite memories with Gooby is sitting before practice talking about our days at school and his day at work. He always connected with the players on a personal level not just about softball.

He always told us before we left for the weekend if we needed him - at any time of the night - call him and he’ll come.

Sarah Knowles, class of 2015

I feel like I got to experience a lot of Gooby’s firsts as far as coaching softball goes. I was on the team the first year that he began coaching at WCMS. I also got the pleasure of being on his team the first year that he began coaching at WCHS. 

When I found out that the new WCHS coach was Gooby my senior year, I was excited because I knew the way that he coached was exactly what our team needed. The main thing that I remember about Gooby is how goofy he is - he was the first one to cut up with us, tease us, and make us laugh too hard, but we knew when it was time to get down to business and get our heads in the game. 

Gooby and I would sit in the dugout during the games and brainstorm which pitches to call, which was one of his many assets. He always had a special bond with us (all of the pitchers) because he trusted us to throw what he needed, and he was always right, he knew exactly where it was going to go when they hit it too. I can still hear him to this day yelling “I see you Sarah” from the dugout. Gooby is truly one of a kind and anyone who gets the chance to play for him is a lucky person. 

Cody Crouch, current assistant coach

Coaching with Gooby is great. He’s a good guy who wants to win and also wants everyone around him (players, coaches, etc.) to succeed. He’s very real and I feel that his players respect him. I never played for Gooby, but everyone I know who has always tells me they loved him and he was one of their favorites.

Morgan Frye, current assistant coach

My favorite part of coaching with Goob has been leading how to be a good coach and learning more about the game from a coach’s point of view. I love how excited and into the game he gets, especially when it’s a big game.

It always blows the girls’ minds when he calls a pitch and tells them where it’s going to be hit or if it’s going to be a strikeout. He just makes the game a positive and fun environment for everybody.

I’m truly glad I get to be a part of his staff.

The following is a Q&A with longtime assistant coach Nick Cantrell, who also played under Martin on the Pioneer baseball team. Questions were asked by sports editor Jeffery Simmons:

Q: What was the learning curve you each had when starting with softball?

A: The biggest thing was neither of us knew how to break down a softball swing. We didn’t have a way to do batting practice – we would stand 20 feet away and do our best to give them something to hit while simulating a softball motion.

The first couple of games we were playing DeKalb County and Coffee County and realized they were putting their best hitter at 1 or 2, hoping for a double and using three outs to get them around. We did that same thing.

He knew how to pitch and I could teach fielding at the middle-school level, so that’s what we did. We decided we’ll teach defense and pitching.

We were winning games 3-2, 2-1, 1-0. Erin Hollis would pitch and we found runs. Over the years, the hitting came. We had girls that all they were doing was playing softball.

At the high-school level, we taught them to get their hacks – 100 swings a day. The hitters kept developing and we kept our system – hit your spots, catch it clean and make good throws.

Painted Barn photo - Even coaches love being around Gooby Martin. Martin, center, is surrounded by, from left, Cody Crouch, Morgan Frye and Nick Cantrell. - photo by Geoff Griffin
Q: What’s it been like being there and seeing how Gooby leads a team – what is it that stands out about his coaching style?

A: He’s the ultimate player’s coach. Everybody says that, but there’s just a handful of people who are. He wants you to play hard and he’s going to put the best nine out there.

If you ever sit with him as he calls pitches, he can break down how an at-bat will go after a pitch. We keep charts, but he has batting orders memorized before we ever start. He knows all the hitters and their tendencies – he’ll set up their at-bats, how we’re going to pitch them the first time, then the next time and so on.

He can get in people’s head. It’s amazing.

Q: Did you notice that as a player? What was Gooby like for you when you played for him?

A: As a player, you see it. I didn’t know the game like I do now, but you could tell by how he called a game. I’d be sitting at second base and he’d call a pitch and be standing up clapping before the ball got to the plate. He already knew what was going to happen.

I remember when I found out I was going to get a start at 2B as a freshman. Some guys had gotten hurt and couldn’t play and he was so cool. He keeps it light because you don’t play good tight.

He told me to just field it like I could and don’t worry about anything else. I had a play where the ball was hit to second and I was getting the ball and standing on the bag to turn a double play. We got it and I look over and he’s making fun of me and doing a little tap dance mimic. He’s just always been like that.

We loved Gooby. You knew he cared. We wanted to be like him as a coach because you knew players want to run through a wall for him.

Q: Back to the pitch calling, how do you think he does it so well?

A: He doesn’t act like he knows as much as he does, but I think he’s has like a photographic memory for pitching. It’s just weird the things he can memorize. It’s crazy the things he knows and the way he sees the game.

You can’t teach how he does some things. He gets in a zone calling pitches and if the pitchers hit the spot he calls, you’re not going to touch him. It’s not going to be all strikeouts, but nobody is going to hit it solid.

He can apply that to coaching our batters too. He knows how to attack hitters, no matter what kind of hitter you are. He tells our players how he would attack them and they work on how to combat it.

Q: What your favorite memory, either as a player or as his assistant?

A: It’s probably whenever we won the district tournament (in 2018). Everybody knew Gooby was a good coach and some people talked about how great he was. When we hit a point where we thumped Cookeville in the championship, it felt like justification that Gooby was the best coach in the county.

No disrespect to anybody around, we have good coaches. Gooby may be the top here – he may be one of the best in the Midstate.

And also, it’s just his attitude about being in Warren County. He wants what is best for Warren County and the athletes here. He wants to give them a chance to make it because he remembers the people who helped him.

Q: What’s the lasting effect Gooby has had on you?

A: He’s always been there. He’s been my mentor. He took me under his wing and showed me how to be a man, how to treat people and care about people. It’s the things you always know, but sometimes you don’t say it. I’m glad to say be able to say it – Gooby’s just an all-around great guy.