When Craig Martin came aboard as head coach of the women’s volleyball program in 2019, he had no idea the challenges awaiting him. A few months into his tenure, virtually all college athletic activity came to a halt because of COVID-19.

“I was definitely disappointed for the players,” he said. “We got our season in the fall of 2019 before things were canceled for the end of winter and spring sports, but once the fall sports got canceled in 2020, it was a definite blow for the seniors.” 

Now in his third year at Stonehill, Martin is pleased to see his athletes back on the court and at the top of their game. The Skyhawks recently secured their first NCAA Tournament win in program history. They ended the 2021 season with a 22-10 record overall, including 10-3 in the NE10. 

As Martin continues working with his student-athletes to build the volleyball program, here are 10 things to know about him.

1. Volleyball is his “passion.” Martin grew up playing baseball, basketball and pond hockey, but the sport he coaches means the most to him. “Volleyball has been something that has brought joy to my life since I was 11 years old and first started playing,” he said. “I didn’t ever think volleyball would be my career.” 

2. He was once a proud Mustang. Before joining the Skyhawks, Martin spent seven years as head coach of the men’s and women’s volleyball programs at Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts. He led the women’s program to 78 wins and three Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) tournament appearances during his tenure. 

3. He is the volleyball program’s 13th head coach. Martin succeeds Kathleen Colpoys, who now coaches the team at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. 

4. He’s an award winner. Martin was named the Northeast-10 Conference’s Sandy Hoffman Coach of the Year in 2021. He is only the third Stonehill head coach to earn this honor (Nguyen Le was the first in 1996, followed by Lauren Amundson in 2011).

5. He used to moonlight as a DJ. Before coaching full-time, Martin spent six years working as a part-time assistant coach. Nights and weekends, he also worked as a DJ at weddings, karaoke nights and other events.

6. He enjoys helping his student-athletes grow as players and as people. “Simply seeing the love of the game on their faces when they achieve a goal or see improvement within their own game is rewarding for me,” he said.

7. His players use their platform for good. Like other college volleyball programs across the country, Martin’s team runs yearly volleyball matches to raise money for the Side-Out Foundation as part of their Dig Pink initiative. The non-profit organization helps people with breast cancer regain control of their lives. The team could not hold a match in 2020 due to COVID-19 measures. They instead organized a serve-a-thon, ultimately raising over $1,000. When pandemic restrictions are fully lifted, Martin hopes to involve the team in other community service programs. 

8. He is practical. No matter how his team performs on the court, Martin tries not to take things too personally. “I don’t like taking any credit when we win and expect to take as much blame as I can when we lose, but overall, I know it’s a game and a very small part of these young ladies’ overall lives,” he said. “I just want to do my best to help them achieve their goals and put our team in the best position to succeed.”

9. He has a sense of humor. The head coaches who came before Martin used to hang up 8x10 photos of senior athletes on their office wall. Martin has kept the tradition going, but with his own twist. “I try to find the goofiest looking action shot I can of each senior and that’s the one I hang on the wall,” he said. “The pictures make me smile every day.”

10. He uses music to center himself before playing volleyball. Martin likes to listen to soft, easy-going music to get in the zone. During team practices, though, he lets his athletes control the playlist. “We have different tastes in pre-match music,” he said. “They like to listen to a lot of hip hop, classic rock or upbeat country, pretty much anything up tempo.” 

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