Aug. 16, 2009
Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
When you start a story on somebody you want to open with a hard grab. You want something interesting, unique -- something that quickly will grab the reader's eye. If you are lucky, you might get one nugget to toss down on paper -- er, web space.
With Kim Martin, Ty Singleton's new assistant softball coach, you can reach into a hat and grab just about whatever you want. Actually, you have to throw a few things out. Consider just a few Martin nuggets to start with:
1- She was (kind-of) discovered as a pitching sensation in a two-horse Canadian town by a former Cy Young pitcher named Dean Chance (Angels).
2- She once drove six hours a day to and from work and was the first in the office and the last to leave.
3- She was a National Player of The Year and a four-time First-Team All-American at Shawnee State (Ohio).
4- She holds every Shawnee State pitching record of note, but is No. 1 in the NAIA record books in two hitting categories.
Yeah, lots of good stuff and we'll get to all that. But first let's talk about all the money Martin saved in moving to New Mexico by not having to haul all her boxes of clippings and trophies. She didn't have them for a good reason -- humility.
Still, Martin did get hit with a freight charge a couple of years ago when she sent all that glory stuff back home to mom and dad in Owen Sound, Ontario. It was her husband's fault. He decided to do a little bragging on a wife who carries her pride deep inside and doesn't like to wave it in front of someone's nose.
"I have a hard time accepting individual recognition for a team sport. My success came from great teammates," said Martin. "I have never looked at my (clippings and trophies) and I don't think I ever will. But one day my husband snuck into the garage and pulled my stuff out to show some people.
"It made me so uncomfortable that I mailed all the boxes to my parents house in Canada to avoid it happening again. I take pride in accomplishing those things but it's an inner pride. I have always believed in that phrase, 'Don't talk about it, be about it."
What Martin (then Kim White) was about at Shawnee State was excellence, but it wasn't limited to the mound where she was a four-year starter. This girl could also hit. In fact, she still holds down a No. 1 spot nationally in the NAIA record book for most consecutive times at-bat without a strikeout (104) and most consecutive games with a hit (28).
So, ya think maybe her prowess at the plate had something to do with her prowess on the mound? Knowing what a pitcher is thinking? Maybe. Martin also owns the No. 4 and No. 5 spot in that NAIA category with 96 at-bats and 82 at-bats without a strikeout.
Talk about a dual threat. She rewrote and still owns the Shawnee State pitching record book, but she also owns Bear records in career (.458) and season (.518) batting average, home runs (42 & 17), RBIs (213 & 62), hits (281 & 81), and runs (204 & 71). No wonder she is in the NAIA Hall of Fame. No wonder she was NAIA Player of The Year in 1997 and NAIA All-American First team from 1994 to 1997. Oh, yeah, she was also conference Player of The Year four times in a row.
You want a few more statistical jolts: She hit .518 in 1996, still No. 5 in the NAIA books. She allowed 23 runs on the mound in 1996, No. 4 in NAIA books. Her 26-3 record in 1996 is No. 8 in NAIA in winning percentage (.897). Her .830 career slugging percentage is No. 3 in NAIA. She allowed 13 walks in 1994, No. 5 in NAIA. She scored 201 career runs, No. 3 in NAIA. Her 42 career home runs is No. 7 in NAIA. She is No. 5 in NAIA in fewest career earned runs allowed (90).
OK, let's move on. Somewhere Martin is turning red with embarrassment. You want the rest of her records, google NAIA softball records.
"When you do everything you possibly can and put everything you have into something, you expect that effort to pay off," said Martin. "I know I worked my tail off to have success, so you almost expect it to come. But you don't really do it for the awards. You are just driven to be the best you can be."
Long ago, in the frozen tundra of Ontario, when Martin first locked onto a sport, the ball was not even a ball and there were no spikes on her feet. She was a skater. The ball was a puck to be driven along a sheet of ice. "You come out of the womb in Canada and there is a hockey puck waiting for you."
Of course, that doesn't mean there is a college scholarship waiting for you, especially if you are female. When Martin approached her teen years, she decided to pursue a sport that might open up a few more doors. Her folks chose softball.
They put her on the mound to get her closely involved in the action. "If they put me in right field, I might have gone weeks before I saw a ball," said Martin. "They wanted to find out quickly if I liked the sport."
Martin like it and she was good on the mound. Very good. But she was in Ontario, not exactly a hotbed for softball or for discovery.
Enter Dean Chance. "He was a friend of the family," said Martin. "He had developed a rapport with some coaches in the states. He watched me pitch and it worked out."
Yeah, worked out for Shawnee State. Worked out for UNM, too. "We feel fortunate to get someone with Kim's credentials," said Singleton. "She has done it at a high level. She was a National Player of The Year and played professionally. She's been in the shoes.
"I get so much gratification out of working with a kid and being there to see the first time that they get it. For me, it's such a rush."
Lobo Softball Assistant Kim Martin
"She once drove three hours (each way) to and from work every day. Her boss told me she was the first one in the office every day and the last one to leave. I don't think I'll be concerned about her commitment to work."
Martin's coaching career began in 1997-98 at Ohio University as a graduate assistant. She also coached at Marshall, played pro ball, coached pro ball, coached at Wisconsin and came to UNM from Charleston Southern. It was at Marshall that she made her six-hour, round-trip, trek to and from work. That probably made the drive out to New Mexico a lot easier. And she didn't have all those boxes of trophies to haul either.
"I like a lot of things about New Mexico, but I was really attracted to Ty's passion for the sport," said Martin. "He has a strong desire to help his players on the field and off. For me, that's what I try to be about. I want to improve a player as a student-athlete, but also as a person.
"In college, these young ladies are around their coaches more than they are their parents and that's a role we have to take seriously. We also have to help prepare them for life."