As head coach Frank Avilla’s right-hand man for the past eight years, Martinez’s talents will be utilized on another sideline in the Rail City come fall.
Martinez was chosen out of nine applicants to take over the boys soccer program at Reed High, a position which has not retained the same head varsity coach for more than a three-year span since Bart Vandamme left after the 2003 season.
“I think the most outstanding thing about Joel is his passion for the game and his passion to teach the game to young people,” Reed athletic director Ron Coombs said. “That was definitely the vibe we got from him in the interview. He was at Sparks for eight years, four years as a volunteer assistant and four years as a paid assistant. His passion for the game and his passion to teach the game to young people really made him stand out. That’s what made us feel so comfortable with going with him.”
Martinez also brings a bevy of soccer knowledge to the pitch. Martinez, a 2001 Sparks High grad, played for the Railroaders and has spent the past eight years as Sparks’ tactical genius. He was also part of a winning tradition, including the Railroaders’ first two regional boys soccer championships and a state championship this past season.
He wants to bring that type of tradition back to the Blue and Gold.
“Tradition is one of the things I want to continue at Reed. Reed has always been one of the powerhouses in the 4A,” Martinez said. “I think that’s something I learned and something we started at Sparks. We didn’t lose much at Sparks. That’s something I hope I can create with the Reed boys, make them believe in the tradition that I’ve experienced at Sparks.”
Reed has lost a lot of its status as an elite boys soccer program over the past several years. The Raiders have been just fighting for a chance to qualify for the postseason and haven’t been threatening to win a league title.
Still, Martinez as well as Coombs are hoping the team will be immediately competitive.
“I’m really optimistic about it. It’s like I tell my boys, before we get to state or to Zone, we have to qualify to get to that next level,” Martinez said. “As long as they believe and they play as a team, I think we’ll get to that level.”
“We lost an enormous amount of seniors off this year’s squad. I want to say from memory I think we lost 11 or 12. Obviously Dylan Valentine graduating, he’s our all-time leading scorer,” Coombs said. “The nice thing is we got a lot of our younger kids that were up on varsity last year, we got some of them experience. I think our JV kids are ready to take that step. I don’t know if rebuilding is the right word. I think it will be a learning experience with those guys and a new coaching staff. We expect them to compete right away.”
For now, Martinez does not know what to expect having not seen his players in action. But he’s eager to help build the program after receiving a head coaching position.
“I’m beyond excited. It’s what I’ve been working toward the past eight years at Sparks High,” he said. “Now that I’ve got this opportunity, I still can’t believe it at times, but it’s reality. I can’t wait to get started. I hope to put Reed back on that map where it belongs. It’s not going to be easy, but I don’t expect it to be. I can’t wait to start and see where the season goes.”