Teacher Spotlight: Coach Martin

January 12, 2007
By Heather Redding

Dennis Martin teaches American and World History. He grew up in Liberty, which is in Blount County, and attended J.B. Pennington High School. During high school, Mr. Martin participated in many sports such as football, baseball, track, and basketball. He remembers making all-state football and getting the chance to play with John Croyle on the all star team. With football season behind him, Mr. Martin prepared for basketball season in winter. He divulged that maybe basketball was not his best sport.  In a game against Hayden with no one surrounding him on the court, he put up the shot and sank it in. To his surprise, he made the shot for Hayden! During track season, he finished in first place in the 440 and went on to state where he finished fourth. While studying was important, the weekends to Mr. Martin included the enjoyment of the drive-inn and drag racing in front of the East Side Cafe. He says the excitement began when the law was speeding to catch the delinquents who scattered in forty different directions.

After high school he decided to continue his education at Jacksonville State University, where he received a scholarship to play football. Mr. Martin truly wanted to attend the University of Alabama, but unfortunately they did not offer him a scholarship. They told him he could only try out as a walk-on. Never-the-less, he decided to take the scholarship that was put in front of him at JSU. There he received a business degree and came face-to-face with his wife, Donna Jo McHan. According to Mr. Martin, all it took was a whiff of Hi Karate cologne and Donna was hooked. Later in his life, he would transfer to Athens State where he would receive a bachelor’s degree in education.  He eventually ended up at the University of Alabama and obtained his masters in education.

Mr. Martin has four children: Kristy, Bucky, Kacy, and Luci. Kristi is the oldest of the four. She received a basketball scholarship, and after college went into the army where she is currently serving her country. Bucky went to college on a football scholarship and is currently an electrician who flies the company plane. Casey married a soldier, Wes Johnson, and now resides in Texas. Luci is an adopted daughter from the outskirts of Bogeta, Columbia in South America. Another large part of his family includes his dog, Barney.

Mr. Martin has a great sense of humor. He enjoys good controversy which begins with a good attitude. Mr. Martin finds fun in playing practical jokes on everyone. For example, he was taking a class at Wallace when he was 45 and appeared in a suit and tie. A group of kids stumbled into the classroom and though he was the professor, so he took it upon his self to dismiss class until the next week. During the middle of what should have been class, six students and a professor decided to report the incident. The dean called Mr. Martin to his office and began laughing as he told Mr. Martin not to repeat this event. Another incident was when Mr. Hallman and he were taking a class for their master’s degrees. Hallman decided to wad paper into a ball and hit Mr. Martin in the face. Mr. Martin took matters into his own hands and threw a piece of paper which hit Hallman right in the face. The professor turned and laughed.

Mr. Martin always knew he wanted to be a teacher. The one incident that inspired Mr. Martin to become a coach occurred when he was in college. Having an undefeated season, Jacksonville and Troy were playing in a bowl game. The teams swapped the lead back and fourth. Troy kicked field goal with a minute left and won the game. As they left the field, Coach Pale told his players, “You just ran out of time, and you are always going to be a winner if you keep trying.”  Mr. Martin has coached football and baseball for 28 years. He believes that if you have a positive attitude and you grow from struggles, you can improve on anything.