Robin Martin never expected to fall into her coaching position, but she couldn’t be happier about it.
Martin, assistant coach of the NSU softball team since 2008, didn’t think about coaching until a former high school teammate, who was NSU’s assistant coach at the time, recommended that Martin replace her, after she accepted a head coaching position at Flagler College.
“I took the job initially to get my masters’ and that’s been done for a few years now so it turned out that I really enjoy coaching. It’s a really rewarding job,” said Martin.
She grew up in Stuart, Fla., about an hour and a half north of NSU. She has been playing sports ever since she could remember. Her parents were a big reason she played softball at such an early age.
“I probably started playing when I was 5 or 6 with T-ball. My parents definitely got me started. They both played competitive slow-pitch softball together,” Martin said. “They played in individual leagues and co-ed leagues. It was a family affair; I grew up at the ballpark.”
Although softball was the family’s favorite sport, Martin didn’t focus solely on it until after a basketball injury.
“I played a lot of different sports growing up. In high school, I played volleyball, basketball and softball. I broke my wrist playing basketball and that was when I made my decision of what sport I needed to go with and what sport I was best at and going to get me into college, and that was softball,” said Martin.
And that is exactly what she did. Martin used her softball skills to help her get into Auburn University in Auburn, Ala. Some of her best experiences took place during this time in her life.
“My most memorable moments aren’t games I necessarily excelled at. They were just an experience. When I was at Auburn and we beat Alabama in 2004, that was a huge thing for us. The whole team chemistry and becoming a family and actually watching it happen and just the feeling you get when you win those big games,” said Martin.
After graduating from Auburn, she accepted the assistant coaching job at NSU, but playing softball and coaching softball are very different, as she would soon find out. In the beginning, she learned on the fly and has since embraced her role in the softball world.
“It was such an eye-opening experience for me because, as a player, you truly don’t look at the game the same as the coach does,” Martin said. “We as coaches try to get our players to view the game like we do. It’s easy for us to get wrapped up in trying to force them to do it but they don’t realize it until they are out of it and they do it themselves. Our goal truly is to get them to think like coaches because if they do that so many more things will make sense.”
Martin is trying to help this program develop as much as it possibly can, so that when her players graduate from NSU they are proud of the program they came from.
She has had to develop her own style of coaching as she goes. But each day she adds more and more to her vast knowledge of the game.
“I don’t talk much. I don’t say a whole lot. I’m not a yeller; I’m more of an encourager. I think Coach [Lesa] Bonnee and I balance each other out pretty well, which is good cause you need a little of this and a little of that. But when I do get upset or frustrated, I think it’s impactful when I do get like that because I don’t get like that often. When Coach Martin raises her voice it’s probably well deserved,” said Martin.
Although it hasn’t been the greatest of starts for the Sharks this season, 17-14, they are always looking to learn and build on from their previous games. They know to take one game at a time and never look too far ahead, so the team is focused on only their next opponent.
NSU’s postseason aspirations can still be met as long as they don’t get too far ahead of themselves.
“As far as expectations, I’m focusing heavily on the rest of this year, trying not to look ahead of this year because we aren’t done yet. It’s not too late to turn it around and make this a successful season and go to postseason. We are not out of the hunt quite yet, but we need to put the pedal to the metal now if we want to make it happen.”
Although the relationship between Martin and NSU happened by chance, it’s really worked out for both sides: a seven-year union that has produced great players, great teams and great memories.