By John Balch
Veteran Murfreesboro High School coach Steve Martin will shift gears next school year when he takes over the district’s track and field program after a successful eight-year run as head Lady Rattler softball coach.
Martin will take the track program over from Andrew Henderson and hand off the softball program to Nicole Martin, who also heads up the Lady Rattler basketball teams. Steve Martin will remain an assistant football coach and the Rattler defensive coordinator.
Martin, 52, started coaching Lady Rattler softball in 2010. During the eight years, the team has earned seven straight regional tournament appearances and also went to state twice.
In 2018, the Lady Rattlers earned their first-ever fast-pitch conference title in school history. (The Lady Rattlers, under Roger Featherston, won the school’s only state title in slow-pitch in 2001. The following season, fast-pitch was implemented.)
It took some time to build the Lady Rattlers into a competitive force, a task made more difficult by a winless season in 2010.
“We could only go up,” Martin said about this first season on the softball diamond.
Martin’s Rattler teammate Terry Jackson served as a volunteer assistant coach for the first three seasons before current volunteer Lonnie Ballard stepped in and remained through the 2018 season.
Martin, who had coached baseball but not softball prior to 2010, said the players never gave up during that initial winless season and stayed committed to the program.
“That says a lot about our players and our sports tradition here,” Martin added. “And that’s what has really helped make the program be successful throughout the years.”
Martin also credits the summer league coaches and parents for fine tuning players way before they enter the high school ranks.
“They were more than ready when they got to me,” he said.
Martin’s decision to step away from the softball diamond has nothing to do with next year’s roster, which he said should be just as strong as the 2018 team after losing only two seniors.
“There is no doubt this team has a solid foundation built around the program,” he said.
“Sometimes, you just have to move forward,” Martin said about the decision to transition to track.
Martin wants to see the school’s track program restored to its former glory.
“The plan is to build that foundation and get track back where it was five or six years ago. I think it can happen.”
Martin graduated from MHS in 1984. He has coached at Dierks, Umpire, New Boston, Texas and De Kalb, Texas. He was hired at MHS in 2010. In addition to softball, he was head girls’ basketball coach and assistant football coach.