by Molly Jennings
After 40 years, hundreds of meet victories and dozens of memorable quotes, Jack Martin will go down as one of the most dedicated coaches in Westfield history. Martin, the WHS boys cross country and track and field coach, will be retiring at the end of this year.
He began his career with Westfield athletics in 1972, when he began coaching EIS soccer. He then moved on to coach winter track in 1982 and cross country in 1983. Finally, in 1991, Martin assumed the role of head coach for spring track. Martin’s dedication is reflected in the outstanding accomplishments of his teams which includes meet victories, county and state titles and even an opportunity to compete in 2012 Cross Country Nationals.
Senior cross country runner Will Geoghegan said: “Martin has taught me the importance of dedication. He has also taught me to never give up even when I feel weak.” Martin led the boys cross country team to victory in the New Jersey State Championship in 1995, 1996, and 2009–12.
Junior runner Connor Swingle said: “Even though we have one of the largest teams in New Jersey, Martin knows everyone on the team. He goes out of his way to know what every runner is capable of and how to best motivate each [one].” With Martin’s demonstrated coaching skills, it is no surprise that he was named Star-Ledger Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2009.
Martin’s collection of memorable quotes and valuable lessons stick with every runner on the team. “Martin has always told me to be a good citizen, which led me to really think about my actions and how they can affect other parts of my life,” said senior cross country Quad-Captain Jack Leahy.
As Martin leaves and closes a chapter in his life, Coach Chris Tafelski will assume Martin’s position as head coach of cross country next year. Tafelski joined Martin in 2003; “He always listened to my input and gave me the chance to try out ideas, even if he was skeptical about them,” said Tafelski.
The new head coach is likely to follow his predecessor’s philosophy. “Martin’s not driven by wins and losses; he’s driven by getting each kid to commit to doing his best and performing at the highest level he can,” said Tafelski. Though Martin is passing the coaching baton to Tafelski, he will always remain a part of Westfield track.
When asked to give one piece of advice to all his runners, Martin said, “I would tell everyone the same thing: Have passion for whatever it is you do. And, of course, keep it real.”