SARATOGA SPRINGS — Leave the University of North Carolina men’s lacrosse program to lead the one at Skidmore College?
Joe Martin jumped at that chance.
It’s the one he wanted.
“As much as I loved the bright lights of the ACC, in my heart I’m a Division III guy,” said Martin, who officially started work as Skidmore’s new coach this week. “I always knew in the long run that I wanted to be a Division III coach.”
Such a job comes with less glitz and glamour, but that’s fine with Martin.
Before spending five seasons at North Carolina, the 28-year-old coached for a year at Division III Western New England University, Martin’s alma mater. That coaching experience, combined with his own college playing career, clinched Martin’s desire to return to that level when he could as a head coach.
“I just loved that experience, and I wanted to be a coach because I had incredible coaches growing up,” said Martin, who played for John Klepacki at Western New England. “I wouldn’t be the person I am without the effect they had on me, and I want to have that effect on others.”
Several years ago, Martin jumped at the chance to experience Division I lacrosse. He started off as North Carolina’s director of operations for the 2014 campaign, which doubled as Niskayuna native Luke Goldstock’s freshman season. Martin said that class of players was a special one in his development.
“I think we all did a lot of growing together,” Martin said.
After North Carolina won the 2016 national championship, Martin became an assistant coach for the Tar Heels. Two seasons later, he felt he was ready to take the next step in his coaching career and knew the level he wanted to do it at.
“I knew in the long run I wanted to be a Division III coach,” said Martin, who replaced Tucker Kear after an 8-8 season for the Thoroughbreds.
Martin — a Springfield, Mass. native — has spent most of his first days canvassing the Northeast at recruiting events. While the size and skill level of players he is recruiting is at a different level compared to when he was at North Carolina, what he is selling is similar.
“So, for me, it hasn’t been much of a change,” Martin said. “The basis of it all is you’re trying to build an excellent experience for players.”
With Skidmore, Martin said he works for a school he knows can help deliver that to the athletes he recruits.
“I wanted to be the head coach at a school I would have wanted to go to,” Martin said.