Pojoaque Athletic Director Celebrates Retirement

by Staff Reporter / Jul 18, 2017 / comments


Retiring Pojoaque High School Athletic Director and basketball coach Matt Martinez stands by a display of some of his achievements as a coach and athletic director at a celebration of his retirement July 15 at Don Quixote Distillery in Pojoaque. Martinez retired after 33 years at Pojoaque. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Matt Martinez: Pojoaque Athletic Director Celebrates Retirement

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

Matt Martinez celebrated his retirement July 15 with friends, family and colleagues at the Don Quixote Distillery in Pojoaque. After 33 years at Pojoaque, Martinez officially retired July 1. He leaves a legacy of state championships in multiple sports and has made Pojoaque known as a school to be reckoned with across the state.

During his tenure as Athletic Director 1999-2017 and including 1998, Pojoaque won 20 (22 if you add bowling, considered an activity) state team athletic championships in seven different sports. Martinez coached Pojoaque’s girls basketball team to the 1998 Class 3A state championship, which culminated a run of three straight years (1996-1998) where Pojoaque played in the Class 3A state championship game. After losing the first two years, the Elkettes capped off an undefeated season (28-0) with a 67-65 victory over Kirtland Central High School to win their first state basketball championship.

​Matt Martinez addresses the crowd at his retirement celebration July 15 at Don Quixote Distillery in Pojoaque. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post


“In 1997, we’d lost to Moriarty (Pojoaque’s only loss that season),” Martinez said. “That was devastating. We regrouped, got back to work. We got everyone on the team to not be selfish. We helped each other and played to our strengths. It was very rewarding after all the work we put in.”

Martinez had taken over the girls program in the 1985-1986 season. He had success right from the start, winning the district championship.

“After that, the program caught fire,” Martinez said. “More girls started coming out. People got the fever.”

How Martinez ended up at Pojoaque is a long story. After graduating from Mora High School in 1976, Martinez attended the University of New Mexico. Upon graduation, he worked at West Mesa High School in Albuquerque. That’s where he got his first taste of coaching.

“Before that, I’d never even seen a girl’s game,” Martinez said. “That’s where the fever started.”

After two years, Martinez went back to college and in 1984 received his Masters degree from New Mexico Highlands University. He applied for a position at Mora High School, hoping to return to his roots. Instead, Mora awarded the position to someone else.

‘The next morning, we went over the mountains,” Martinez said. “I applied at Penasco and Pojoaque.”

Matt Martinez (left, top) celebrated his retirement with sister Anita Roybal, brother Michael Martinez, aunt Simonita Romero (left, front) and mother Tillie Trujillo. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Martinez was hired at Pojoaque, but a girls coach had been hired just the week before. Initially, he was going to be the boys freshman basketball coach. Later that year, he took over as girls junior varsity coach and led that team to a district title. He took over as varsity coach the following season.

In 1999, Martinez was urged to apply for the position of Athletic Director. It was part of a deal he’d made with Chris Peterson, a Pojoaque graduate and close friend.

“I told Chris to apply for the boys basketball coaching position,” Martinez said. “He said he would if I applied for Athletic Director.”

Both were hired at their respective positions. Tragically, Peterson was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2000. At the urging of the community, Martinez took over as boys basketball coach for the 2000-2001 season, serving in both positions. That was his last time on the sidelines as coach.

Martinez feels that hiring good coaches and supporting them, as well as the athletes, has been part of the success that Pojoaque has achieved.

“I attended every event I could,” Martinez said. “I showed the kids and the coaches I was there for them. I gave it everything I had.”

That included being the driver of the team’s bus to away games and state competitions.

“I started driving when I was coaching during the summer,” Martinez said. ‘I enjoyed that. Getting out with the kids and seeing how they were on the road. It was beneficial to everybody that I was there. I was able to drive whenever they needed a driver.”

There are those lucky ones among us whose work doesn’t feel like work. Martinez is among them.

“I enjoy working with people,” he said. “It wasn’t really a job, it was fun. I enjoyed going to work.”

Martinez has many great memories as Athletic Director.

Any time we won state, I was elated,’ Martinez said. “In 2008, both the boys and girls basketball teams won. I was really proud of the two coaches, especially Joey (Trujillo, boys basketball coach). Watching (cross country coach Alan) Lockridge develop his program. Seeing the coaches rewarded for their hard work.”

As a coach, Martinez has more special memories.

‘Seeing kids come back and say ‘Thank you,’” Martinez said. “Seeing that they’re productive in life and they learned a lot under my direction. They’re better individuals and they were ready for life.”

Working with coaches, his staff and the community are other memorable moments. Despite his retirement, another return to coaching is not out of the question. Martinez recently coached the North All-Star team to a decisive victory over the South in the Class 3A-4A North South All-Star girls basketball game.

“It’s still in my blood,” Martinez said. “The fire is still there.”

For now, Martinez is enjoying life. After his retirement party, he went to Las Vegas, Nev.. From there he spoke on the phone.

“I’m taking it one day at a time,” Martinez said. “I’m enjoying myself, enjoying life.”