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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

Joe Martino retires as HHS boys basketball coach

Led Blue Devils to 2008 South Jersey finals; CAL conference title

HHS Basketball Coach Martino retires after 23 seasons

Dan Russoman/THG. Hammonton boys basketball coach Joe Martino announced his retirement last week after 23 seasons at the school.

HAMMONTON—After 23 seasons leading his alma mater, Hammonton High School boys basketball coach Joe Martino announced his retirement last week.

Martino led the Blue Devils to a school record 243 wins in his career, including a pair of 20-win and seven winning seasons.

“It’s time. I’ve done this a long time and it’s nice to be able to go out on my own terms,” Martino said.

A combination of wanting to spend more time with family and the year-long commitment were reasons Martino chose to leave the position he’s held since 2001.

“A lot goes into it every year and, you know, just now it’s at the point where it’s a 12-month type of job in some way. So, you have to decide, ‘hey, do I have the same amount of energy and time to put into this program, you know, and be fair to, to what it deserves?’,” Martino said.

The daily commitment was becoming difficult and time consuming, leading Martino to his decision.

“When it starts to become a job and you’re starting to realize that you have to stay on top of this and you’re being pulled and turned every different way, its’ tough So I have a family. I have two sons and a very, very active family life. So, you know, it was it was time [to step away],” he said.

Martino admitted the decision to retire was not an easy one to make and said he will miss coaching his players and working with his coaching staff.

“I’m torn, absolutely. I mean, you have to be. You’ve got to have kind of mixed feelings, I guess. You know, I have a lot invested in that program,” he said.

Reflecting on his 23-year tenure, Martino said he has much to be proud of and appreciate.

“I’m just grateful that I had the opportunity. To grow up in this town and to be able to coach and to have all the support I had with my assistant coaches. I mean, I really had some really good coaches. They wanted to help out the community, the kids in the school, and, they were supportive of me. I was very fortunate. You don’t do it alone, you know? And you can’t. And, I just had great assistants, and I always had support from the community and administration, so I had a pretty good 23 years. I’m very grateful for that, because I didn’t have many bumps and many obstacles along the way,” he said.

Martino took over a Hammonton program that had struggled for decades. Prior to his first winning season in 2005, the team had gone more than 50 years without finishing above .500.

In 2008, the Blue Devils won a school record 22 games and played in the South Jersey Group 3 championship game.

“The goal was to build a program and be super competitive. And I thought we did that. And even when we were lean, I think teams knew they had to play their best game to beat us. You know, we were going to play hard and we were going to be tough on defense and you were going to have to play your best game to beat us. So even in those lean years, man, I had my fun because it was it was great. I embraced the underdog role,” Martino said.

The challenge of building Hammonton’s program was one reason Martino took the job 23 years ago.

“That’s probably why I took on the program to be honest with you. I mean, I not only grew up here, but I also knew it was a program that was in need of some attention in terms of getting it to play tough in the Cape Atlantic League every year,” Martino said.

Martino achieved his goal of rebuilding Hammonton basketball into a strong program.

“It was tough, but it was fun and I certainly had my fun coaching over 23 years. I mean, every season was different. And it was a different challenge. We had some great moments, some great memories in terms of wins and that kind of a thing. But, I’ve also had seasons where we were underdogs and we totally overachieved. And, uh, you know, those were great, great memories, too,” Martino said.


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