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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

After 30 Years At WIS, James Martin Is Saying Goodbye

Head coach James Martin standing alongside assistant coaches following historic DCSAA championship in 2016

James Martin has been a cornerstone of the WIS community for the last 32 years. After decades of teaching IB economics and coaching the WIS Boys Varsity Soccer team, Martin has finally decided to call it a career and retire.

            Since joining the school in 1988, Martin has guided countless students through the complexities of IB economics, paving the way for many WIS alumni to study economics in university with ease. But Martin’s background and impact within economics extends much further than just the WIS community. Teaching dozens of IB workshops all over the western hemisphere, writing the IB syllabus with other qualified teachers, and serving as an IB examiner for over a decade, Martin has cemented himself in the realm of IB economics both globally and at WIS.

        Despite teaching and studying all four subsets of economics; micro, macro, international, and development, over the last three decades of his life, this passion for economics truly stemmed from his interest in the occupation of Auto mechanics.

Martin claims, “Taking a class in economics really reminded me of auto mechanics, as I was very interested in the idea of logical chain reactions, and I could visualize the concepts clearly in economics.” From then on, Martin devoted his life to teaching economics at the IB level. The rest is history. Although it truly is the end of an era, Martin has cherished all 30 years of his time with the WIS community, and will always remember the respectful, amiable culture held around campus. 

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Martin standing beside his wife, Marina, and their three children, all WIS alumni

“The number one thing over the years has been the kind, incredibly polite students that value education and academic ideas, even saying ‘thank you’ when they walk out of your classroom, that’s what makes teaching the greatest job,” Martin said.

Martin isn’t just any ordinary economics teacher, it’s his charismatic and humorous personality both in class and with his soccer players that makes him a favorite around the community. 

“He really manages to create meaningful bonds with students, explaining things in such a way that allows him to create a strong bond with the student both with the material and on a personal level,” junior Tommaso Forni said.

Furthermore, Martin’s role within the community extends further than teaching economics. When he became the WIS Boys Varsity Soccer Coach in 2010, his impact was felt on the field, as well as the classroom. Since Martin has become the full-time coach, the team has been crowned as Potomac Valley Athletic Conference (PVAC) regular-season champions for seven of 10 years. 

In one of these 10 years, WIS was completely unmatched by any other opponent. In 2016, Martin coached the squad to sweep the PVAC regular season and tournament and win the DCSAA tournament championship in overtime against. Bell Multicultural. This marked WIS’ first ever DCSAA championship in any sport. 

In a tournament filled with powerhouses such as St. Albans and Gonzaga, Martin led the underdogs to a state championship the team would never forget. A pivotal piece of the team’s unexpected run in the tournament was none other than senior captain at the time, Nico Ubide.

In Ubide’s legendary senior season, he finished with the most goals in the tri-state area, won the DC Gatorade player of the year, and to cap it all of, he scored the winning goal in the tournament finals. He credits a big part of the individual and team accolades to the chemistry and play style crafted by Martin. 

“Being on the team for all 4 years of high school, he definately guided me and put us in positions to succeed” Ubide said. “We all grew up playing differently, and without him I don’t think we would have meshed together as a team as well as we eventually did”

“He taught me to put the team on my back, and to know that when the other team bites, you bite back even harder.”

Martin’s success and guidance as a coach come naturally to him, carrying over aspects of his teaching to his guidance on the soccer field. 

Forni, who along with being Martin’s student plays on the soccer team, had many appraisals for Martin’s coaching. 

“He brings into it a traditional play style/coaching style that you really don’t see these days,” Forni said.

Martin observing a 2015 WIS soccer match

Martin is notorious for the calming and relaxing atmosphere he brings into the room, both with his students and his players. Unlike other instructors, he may not be the most intense and demanding, but his tranquil form of teaching leaves everyone less stressed about any task at hand.

For instance, often times he sympathizes with his students, understanding the long day or stress they may be enduring from the IB, and he devotes time to meditate with his students in complete silence. Forni praised Martin’s mannerism, noting that this style was carried forward to the soccer pitch every game. 

“The way he coached the team before games, he didn’t like to keep the team too serious, he always likes to lighten the mood before kickoff, allowing me to go into the game more cheerful and relaxed remembering to just enjoy myself,” Forni said.

Unlike many other coaches, Martin does not base the team’s game plan on what the top professional teams are doing and how they are succeeding.

“I look to follow the seemingly lower-tier teams who are punching above their weight, and apply their training techniques and drills to the team,” Martin said. 

Now, by no means is Martin implying that WIS is a lower-tier soccer team, as historically WIS has always excelled in soccer. However, unlike many other schools in the area, WIS has significantly smaller numbers per grade, leaving them already at a disadvantage against the top teams. 

“If you look at a team like Gonzaga or St. Albans, they could make three or four more teams then they already have with just their seniors, while this year, we relied on our sophomores and juniors,” Martin said.

This past year, Martin yet again coached the team to the best record in the PVAC and another tournament championship. As for the state championship, the team lost in the quarter-finals to E.L Haynes, sadly ending their hopes for a second state trophy. 

With that being said, although Martin may be retiring from his duties in the classroom teaching IB economics, he will still remain as the coach of the WIS Varsity Soccer team.

“It’s going to be a challenge, but we can work with our squad… and I’m pumped,” he said.

By: Diego Maldonado

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