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Ohio Wesleyan's Martin Notches 400th Victory

October 10, 2000

[ Jay Martin Photo ]DELAWARE, OHIO -- When the Ohio Wesleyan University men's soccer team defeated Wooster, 7-1, on Saturday, it was more than just another North Coast Athletic Conference win. It marked the 400th career win for Battling Bishop head coach Jay Martin.

Martin becomes the eighth college coach to reach the 400-win mark, according to records of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and the National Collegiate Athletics Association. None of the 7 coaches that have already reached the 400-win mark have done so faster than Martin, who is in his 24th season at Ohio Wesleyan. Indiana University's Jerry Yeagley also hit 400 wins during his 24th season as a head coach.

Martin has had phenomenal success since taking over the Bishop helm in 1977. His overall record is 400-80-31, a winning percentage of .813. Ohio Wesleyan compiled the best winning percentage in the NCAA -- regardless of division -- during the 1980s, a lofty .815. The Battling Bishops topped that in the 1990s, fashioning a winning percentage of .825.

But the Bishops' success is not limited to a sparking won-loss record. Ohio Wesleyan has competed in 21 of the last 22 NCAA Division III tournaments and has won 7 of the last 11 NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional championships. Ohio Wesleyan holds NCAA Division III records with 23 playoff appearances and 40 playoff victories.

"The tradition started with Fred Myers (Ohio Wesleyan's coach from 1957-76)," Martin said, "and we have been fortunate enough in the last 24 years to have some great young men who are good soccer players who have helped build on that tradition."

A handful of wins stand out for Martin. The first came in 1978 in the first round of the NCAA Division III Midwest-Far West Regional tournament. "They took the top 16 teams in those days, and we must have been 16th. We went to Wheaton, which was seeded No. 1 in the regional, and beat them, 3-2. Nobody expected us to be in the playoffs, let alone do well."

Other favorite wins of Martin's include a 3-2 nod over Division I entity Akron in 1988; a 2-1 win at defending champion Elizabethtown in a 1990 quarterfinal match; the 1-0 win over Wheaton that put the Bishops into the 1990 NCAA Division III championship game; the 1990 title game, a 1-1 tie with Glassboro (N.J.) State; and a 2-1 overtime win at Methodist in the 1992 quarterfinals.

The peak in Martin's already-illustrious coaching career came when he guided the Battling Bishops to the 1998 NCAA Division III championship. The Bishops punctuated the season with a 2-1 victory over Greensboro (N.C.) in overtime to capture the crown. They had defeated Alma, Otterbein, Trinity, and Williams to reach the finals.

"After that game and now I feel a great amount of satisfaction," Martin said. "At the time, I was excited, but it was a struggle because it felt just like another game. The impact didn't sink in for a while. Now whenever I'm driving or running and the thoughts of that weekend come into mind, it always makes me feel good about what we have accomplished."

Along with his 1998 team, and the 1990 and 1992 teams, both of which finished as NCAA Division III runner-up, Martin most fondly remembers the 1981 and 1986 seasons. "In 1981, it seemed we were always behind, but would come back," he said. Ohio Wesleyan finished 17-4-4 that year and reached the national semifinals for the first time under Martin. In 1986, the Bishops set a school record with 20 wins in reaching the national quarterfinals. "That team was loaded with talent. It was a real good team with such a high level of play, it was just a pleasure to watch." Ohio Wesleyan had 5 players off that team earn All-America honors during their Bishop careers.

Not surprisingly, Martin feels that players are the difference in helping him reach the 400-win mark so rapidly. "The game has progressed so much since I came to Ohio Wesleyan," Martin said. "The biggest difference is the total quality of play. When I came here, guys started playing in sixth and seventh grade. Now, they start at ages 5-6. Also, there are so many soccer clubs now that kids are not only starting at 6 years old but playing a higher level of competition all year long."

"When I was younger, I always thought to be considered a successful coach you would have to win the national championship," he said. "That's not the case here though. This program has been so good for so long and that's very satisfying. I'm more proud that we have been so consistent and so good for so long. I don't mean to belittle winning the championship because that was great. It's just that this program has been good for so long."

"I'm still the same," Martin said. "After all this I'm not a better coach, person, or teacher. In the minds of some, it validates our program and now they can't say the program hasn't reached positive heights. But nothing has changed. If anything, it's going to be even harder this year -- and next."