As I was sitting in the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church during the Memorial Services for former College of San Mateo football, women’s basketball and softball head coach and Physical Education Instructor, Thomas Albert Martinez or as it was properly titled “Celebrating the Life of Thomas Albert Martinez,” I was not surprised by how crowded the church was in his honor or by the message that was repeated over and over that Tom Martinez was a wonderful coach, a wonderful person and a genuine individual that loved not only his own family but everybody else as well. I guess what did surprise me was by how many people’s lives Coach Martinez touched and helped during his career and lifetime even when he was very sick and ill he would still go to his football training camp and/or quarterback camp in a wheelchair and still work out and train committed athletes like a Tom Brady or a John Elway. The other thing that surprised me about Tom Martinez how long his career was let me put it this way, he started teaching and coaching in 1966 that is three years before I was born and I am now 42 years old so that would make it close to 45 years of commitment and devotion to not only athletes, fans, coaches and friends but to the State of California and the California Community College System how about that. Coach Martinez had a very special and unique love for the College of San Mateo and the Bulldogs where his coaching career in Junior college and/or Community college began and why not he led all three teams that he was the head coach of to successful season(s) never a losing season especially in Women’s Basketball where he has led the Lady Bulldogs to four Northern California Titles and let us not forget all the success he had in both the Golden Gate Conference as well as the Coast Conference. He was also a kind of person that would always be there if you needed him and/or his help and he was training and coaching you but the secret there is you would need to call and contact him he did not call or contact any of the athletes he was training he would wait for them to call him which gave him the message that they now need his help, knowledge and expertise. If there is one sad note and/or regret regarding the Memorial Services is that Coach Tom Martinez did not get the Kidney transplant operation that probably could have saved his life so he could keep teaching and touching lives like he has always done. As I was listening to his son, Thomas Alan Martinez comment on his father and his coaching style; “No excuses, just get the job done,” it does not get any simpler than that “Do what you love to do and take great pride in what you do” Mr. Martinez took great pride in his teams, his athletes and of course his greatest team his loving and close family. I remember when I was a student at College of San Mateo in 2000 I believe and I went to visit Coach Tom Martinez in his office he would be returning telephone calls from his voice mail and we just changed our area code from 415 to 650 this was six to eight months after the change and he would dial a telephone number then in a spur of the moment look at me and say “so it is 650 now not 415?” I responded yes coach that is correct. I still though will always remember the conversation I had with him a few days he found out that he had only a year to live, being the idiot that I was I thought he was joking or making a joke his response “No I am dead serious!” that immediately gave me chills and nerves I took my hat off to him he was extremely brave and that I will never ever forget that about Tom Martinez, but Coach Martinez did have a lighter and funny side one time when I was at Foothill College I offered to get him a Foothill College athletics sweatshirt as a gift his response was “you know what I am going to do with it” wear it I answered he just smiled and said “no I am going to place over the bathroom stall and/or toilet get the picture.” That was the kind of person Thomas Albert Martinez was a great leader, a great coach with also a great sense of humor. I guess I will also agree with the comment and/or remark that the Pastor made close to the end of the Memorial Services, “Tom Martinez was a great and unique individual that loved and cared for everybody, this world needs more people like Tom Martinez,” I could not agree more with that statement. I cannot say this enough thank you Coach Martinez for all the great memories and exciting games you have given us may God Bless You and may you Rest In Peace.
Donations can be made in Thomas Albert Martinez’s name to one of the following organizations: Tom Martinez Appreciation Award c/o San Mateo County Community College District Foundation, 3401 CSM Drive, San Mateo, California 94402, www.TomMartinezFund.com or Matching Donors www.matchingdonors.com or the National Kidney Foundation www.kidney.org