Photo by Kate Nuelle
After four years coaching at the State University of New York at Oswego, Abby Martin was appointed head softball coach at Trinity during the summer of 2019. As her first season leading the Tigers gets set to start on Feb. 1, Martin discussed why she chose to make the move down to Texas and how she’s been adjusting to Trinity.
What made you want to come down to Trinity from the State University of New York at Oswego?
It took a lot, honestly. I was very happy where I was. I was born and raised actually in Oswego, so my family’s there, and I really built that program up to the best of my ability. It’s funny — when I was interviewing for the job, I got on the phone with all of my network and my coaching colleagues, and they were like, “You have to take the job, like, you will be living in San Antonio and coaching at Trinity.” I came down here for the interview, and I was blown away with the campus. I mean this is the best campus I’ve ever set foot on ever in my life, and I felt lucky to even be considered for the job, so obviously when they offered it to me I was like, “Heck yes, let’s do it.” And really the biggest thing, too, is softball in Texas is so much better than anywhere else in the country. I mean, California is arguably up there, too, but I knew at some point that I would have to make a big move as far as living in California, Texas, Florida perhaps, too, just because this is where the best softball is. So I knew I was going to insert myself into that environment at some point in my life.
Your entire playing and coaching career in college came in the states of New York and New Jersey. What can you say about the differences you see in softball between Texas and those states?
Obviously the weather is a huge difference. I mean, kids can get outside and utilize the facilities. Obviously, softball being an outdoor sport, that’s very important. It’s hard to condition yourself and develop yourself in a gymnasium, or any indoor facility at that, so the weather is really just a huge factor. Also, there’s sports that are more popular up in New York like lacrosse and hockey. Then, I was relying on New York state talent, too, for four years, and there’s some really talented kids in New York. But I was really confined to one state and, obviously, a state [where] the weather is not conducive to softball in general. At Trinity, having the ability to recruit nationally and being in that type of environment already is just conducive to really building a championship program, which I’m very much looking to do.
You mentioned you loved Trinity from the moment you stepped on campus. What has been your favorite part about Trinity so far?
Just the drive that people have. Going from a state of New York school to a private Texas school, and being that Trinity is so academically inclined, it just automatically surrounds me with people that are that are driven like myself. They just have really high goals for themselves, and they have really high expectations, and they just want success. That definitely has a trickle-down effect for sports, I think, because it takes a special person to be here in the first place. So I guess surrounding myself with people like that, people that want to be successful just as much as I do, has been really exciting for me.
What has been the most difficult thing about taking charge of a new team?
Well, I did it five years ago, so it’s not my first head coaching job. I just think that the first thing you have to do is really change the culture of the team. I mean, it’s hard to expect these dramatic wins to happen over such a short period of time. Really, recruiting has to take its place over the course of at least two to three years, but I think immediately, my expectations are really different than what the girls were used to and not in a bad way or good way really. Just getting used to me, I think. Just the culture piece has been the biggest challenge, but I think the most exciting thing is that I get to kind of make my mark and put my stamp on something again and obviously looking to carry that into the future, and hopefully that will render championships again.
How do you feel about softball, along with baseball, coming back for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo?
It really was a crushing blow to not have that, and the fact that it’s back, I mean the softball world is ecstatic. There’s no doubt that we should win gold this year. So yeah, I’m excited to watch… I’m just excited to see the sport back on a worldly basis.
What kind of impact you think having softball back at a world stage will have for younger girls who see that and say, ‘I can make it there’?
When I was little and growing up and playing softball [and] baseball, I could see how I was able to say, “Oh, that’s what I want,” and I [strove] to be at that level, but obviously for the past several years kids didn’t have that. So I feel like now that that’s back, softball has even more of an opportunity to grow bigger than it already is. It’s an exciting thing, I think, especially for the younger generation.
If you were stranded on an island with one person, who would you choose to be with and why?
Probably my dad. My dad’s like my best friend.
What three people would you invite to your dream dinner party?
I would say Dave Matthews. I’m like a huge [Dave Matthews Band] fan. I know he’s probably not as popular as he used to be, but people my age are like crazy DMB fans. At least I am. I would say Alex Rodriguez. I love him. He gets a lot of hate from people, but I’ve been a fan of him for a long time, especially now that he’s had such a wide-range career. Now he’s in the business world, and he’s on TV talking in baseball games, and he’s hopefully gonna be in the Hall of Fame — we’ll see if that happens. Then one more: probably my dad again. He’s my best friend, so he can come too.
What would you eat at this dinner?
Probably a wide variety of the world’s finest sushi, and probably chicken parm. It’s so random, but it’s my two favorite things I guess in one. For dessert, chocolate peanut butter pie.
If you could tell the world one thing about yourself, what would you say?
That my negative experiences probably shaped more of who I am than the positive ones, especially as far as my career. I’ve had the best of the best softball experience, and then probably the worst of the worst, but together they kind of formed who I am, especially as far as my career is concerned.