To the youth of today Coach Martin brings forth his penchant for attention to detail and a broad understanding and belief in ethics in sport. The New Canaan Blazers Running Team is built around the commitment of Coach Bill Martin to the development of mind, spirit, and athletic participation. Coach Martin maintains a national coaching reputation after championship years at Iona College, New Rochelle HS, Norwalk High School, and now as Coach at New Canaan High School. Coach is a devoted family man. Married to Elizabeth for 33 years, the Martin’s have a son Trevor and a daughter Amanda.
Coach Bill Martin is one of America’s all-time greatest collegiate and world class middle distance runners specializing in the 800 meters to 1000 meters both indoors and outdoors. Bill is a three times United States national champion (USATF) with a career spanning 1971 to the late 80’s at the elite level of high school, college, and post collegiate world class competitions throughout the world. While in high school Bill set the current Massachusetts 880 yards record, earned a place in the Massachusetts Track and Field Hall of Fame, garnered a coveted #1 rank for 880 yards by Track and Field News, notched All American status, and took the nation by storm in 1975 by winning the Golden West High School National Championship for 880 yards all while remaining undefeated that year. His spirit for toughness was none more apparent than also being the National High School Catholic Cross Country Champion.
The world took notice of Bill Martin during his Hall of Fame career at Iona College. The astounding achievement of 8x NCAA Division 1 All American in Track and Field. The range of Bill Martin’s middle distance prowess is iconic with famous titles earned at the Millrose Games, across the world as a USA National Team Member winning 3 National titles competing in Helsinki, Finland and Estonia, Russia. Throughout the heyday of track and field in the USA, the roaring 80’s, Bill Martin represented the United States across Europe, Asia, South America, China, and Scandinavia. His Alma Mater Iona College named Bill Martin to its coveted Hall of Fame. A three times United States Olympic Trials Member, Coach Martin was a finalist in 1980 at Eugene, Oregon.
Coach Martin throughout his career competed against the world greats: Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett, Don Paige, James Robinson, Sir John Walker, Johnny Gray, Randy Wilson, and a host of Olympic Medalists Worldwide. To his credit Bill Martin the runner carried a reputation that lingered in the minds of every runner he ever faced: “Bill Martin is a winner … the man is not built to lose.”
“Bill Martin was my motivation and idol in 1980 that inspired me to move from the sprints to the middle distances. I craved to have Bill’s passion and dedication. His style and grace caused me to eventually run 1:45 for 800 meters and 3:56 for the mile”
— Brian Theriot UCLA Captain, 1978 NCAA Team Champion
“My son is Chris Madaffari and he was coached by Bill Martin at the high school level for four years. He coached Chris outside of the regular season for a high school athlete which is offseason and prepared him for all of the Junior Olympic races he entered. He was fortunate enough as a junior at BMHS to receive All American Honors. In his senior year, he was selected as finalist for Wendy’s Heisman Award. He was one of 12 out of 30,000 applicants. After high school he attended the United States Air Force Academy and after a year transferred to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Where he has been running cross country and outdoor track. I feel without the coaching of Bill Martin my son would not have been prepared to run at these two division one schools. He did not only prepare him to run but prepared him mentally, as well. Currently, I recommend Bill Martin to any parent of student athletes to take their child to the next level. He is an exceptional individual.
Even today as a senior at UNC Billy still keeps track of Christopher’s success. I feel strongly that at this level Chris would not be as successful without Bill’s coaching.”
— Joe Madaffari Athletic Director, Brien McMahon High School
“In terms of as a competitor being in New Rochelle I kept a sharp eye on Bill Martin his exploits at Iona. He did not disappoint, relentless, superior. Dominant. Of course, this was manifested from him in his coaching style. I will add the word dedicated to his coaching resume as well as successful”
— Andy Capellan New Rochelle Girls Head Coach, 2016 Penn Relays HOF Inductee, 2015 Glenn D. Loucks HOF Inductee
“I’ve never been more dedicated, hungry, and as selfless as an athlete and as a young man than during my time with my coach Bill Martin. Coach Martin is a man who immediately earns your respect. I knew that with his guidance, he would lead our team and myself to success. If you want someone who will drive you further than you could ever imagine and make you reach levels you thought you never could, Coach Martin is your man. When I first joined Cross Country as a sophomore, I didn’t like running, but with Coach Martin I fell in love with the sport and he tapped my true potential. Coach Martin took our team from middle of the pack in the State Division and County, to a Top 15 ranking for the entire state of Connecticut. All just in two seasons as a full time head coach.”
— Alex Ellsworth NCHS, Class of 2015, Purdue University, Class of 2019, Purdue University Track and Field Athlete
One of my work colleagues told me that Bill Martin had coached his son when he was competing at a high level in high school. I sought out Bill and told him about my son, Luke, and his desire to get better at track. As a sophomore Luke was part of a 4×800 team with the other three members being seniors. The team took second place at the conference championships and this accomplishment fueled Luke’s fire. Bill met Luke at the state championship meet and the two of them hit it off immediately. Bill broke down Luke’s mechanics and spoke to him “how to” run a complete race. Over that next summer Luke drove 1 hour each way to be trained by Bill Martin. Bill taught Luke the physiology and mechanics that would make him a better runner. Luke saw immediate results. This winter season Luke brought his 600m run time from a 1:30 to a 1:23.7. He won the conference championship in that race and competed at the state championships (would have taken 4th but committed a lane violation). He holds 3 school records in the 400m, 600m, and 4x400m. Luke is in the midst of his spring track season and just ran a 49.5 at the conference championships. With the states just a week away I am sure success will continue to come his way. Luke had the basic athleticism and motivation but Bill Martin taught him the rest. I would and do recommend any student athlete to seek out Bill’s expert advice and coaching.
— Patrick English Father
Coach Bill Martin was everything you could hope for in a coach and mentor. The toold he provided to me and to our team created champions on our high school team. Coach Martin provided us all with long lasting testaments to drive and determination that I still apply in my personal, professional, and family life.
— Howard Goldklang New Rochelle High School 1995, 800 meters and SUNY Albany 400 meters hurdles 1999
I am more than pleased to convey an incredible admiration for Coach Bill Martin. Bill first came to my attention in the 70’s, his high school years, and then with our athletes at UCLA talking about his 800 meters prowess in the 80’s. In fact, I took special care to follow Bill and most of the East Coast runners during the 80’s because of his consistent ability to compete at a high level, avoid injuries, and maintain a reputation for being an outstanding citizen in sport. I know this because many of my athletes at UCLA readying for Olympic Trials in Oregon, Los Angeles, and Indianapolis during the 80’s were close to Bill after competing with him on the Euro Circuit. To know that Bill Martin has joined our coaching rank gives me great pleasure as track and field needs men of Bill’s knowledge and professionalism.
— Coach Bob Larsen UCLA, USATF Hall of Fame
“Bill Martin is a testament to tough 800 meters runners and the middle distance world. I watched Bill compete for over a decade and he always presented himself on and off the track as class act and ethical competitor. Bill caught my eye in the 1975 recruiting year and we at UCLA tried to counter his amazing career with our west coast athletes specializing in the middle distances. Bill dominated the USA track circuit and throughout Europe representing the USA for a decade. Whether it was indoors or outdoors Bill Martin of Iona College then representing the USA helped our coaching staff develop styles and methods to replicate the success of Bill.”
— Coach Jim Bush Multiple NCAA Titles UCLA Track and Field, United States Track and Field Hall of Fame Inductee, UCLA Hall of Fame, NCAA Hall of Fame
Martin told us, in regards to any opponent, “If you can’t beat him, then BEAT him.”
“I cannot quit because Martin’s kids don’t quit.”
“The race goes not to the swift or to the strong, but to those that endure.”
— Spencer Lightsy
“Coach Martin is like those weigh loss commercials that guarantees results, and he does! He is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. To this day I will still go to him if I have an issue, not only in the weight room – but in my life. He’s that good.”
— Ned Hughes Jr. Gettysburg College
“We found Coach Martin to be authentically encouraging for our son. He had experience to teach, and challenge our son to push himself even when it was hard. He had expectations to keep our son striving to improve. He had an incredibly warm personality and ability to connect both in competition and practice. Coach Martin cared about the whole athlete, mind, body and spirit.”
— Julia & Ed Hughes NCHS Parents
Coach Martin has a wealth of knowledge from his years of track experience that he has always been happy to share with new coaches.
— Pat Moffett Norwalk High School, Head Boys Track and Field, Assistant Football
I met Coach Martin my junior in High School. We were a team that was comprised mainly of sprinters, but under Martin’s leadership, our distance corps became an area of strength for our team. As a coach, one of the things that stood out the most to me about Martin was his implementation of circuit training. For us it was an oddity for distance runners to be expected to lift weights, but after getting past the initial apprehension and confusion, the circuit training became something that we embraced. I am sure it physically helped us have stronger cores, better running form, and provided the ability to have our upper bodies carry us forward when our legs were tired, however, beyond the physical benefits, mentally it made us tough.I still remember the first 3200m race I won as a senior. We had been circuit training since Martin joined the coaching team the prior year. Every week we would compete against the same teams, and in the distance events, the kids from the northern counties would always win the distance events. When I won that 3200m run it was as if was a win for all of Martin’s kids. It was as if we were serving notice that the old days were over, that now New Rochelle could not only win in sprints, but that we were coming to win the distance events too. The thing about that first 3200m victory and how it relates to circuit training was this. . . We came into that season with the mentality that at New Rochelle we were strong in sprint events but weak at distance events, but Martin told us, in regards to any opponent, “If you can’t beat him, then BEAT him.” That is exactly what I did. I ran to the front when the gun went off, set in at a pace at which I was comfortable, and whenever someone tried to pass me, I did not speed up to keep from letting someone pass me, but instead they were met with a barrage of elbows – legal elbows, nothing dirty! The runner who received the brunt of this strategy was David Dominguez from North Rockland, which was one of the traditionally strong distance schools. During the race and after the race, he was completely frustrated, complaining to his coach, and while back in our area we were all thrilled, like we had been given super powers of not being able to be bullied on the track. That first 3200m race was the first of many victories, not just for me, but for so many of us in our distance group. Coach made believers out of us that we could not just run with the kids from up north, but out run them.
Impact he has had on my life
Once the newness of being victorious week in and week out wore off, Coach continued to challenge us not just to win races, but to be our best. Winning was not enough. Coach helped us to understand that ultimately, we were not racing against other kids but against ourselves. That is something I hold on to even today. It is not about being a better husband, father, church member, employee, or friend than the next guy, but rather, I need to be the best husband that I can be, the best father I can be, the best church member I can be, the best employee I can be, the best friend I can be. Strangely enough it once again goes back to the circuit training he implemented. We had never heard of distance runners lifting weights, so not only were we actually doing more than other runners, it gave us a mental edge. It was our secret weapon that we knew we were better conditioned that the kids we were running against, because we knew that they were not putting in the extra that we were. So many times in life you can witness those who are victorious are not necessarily those who are doing exponentially more than everybody else, but they are those that are willing to do 1% more, every day. After a while, that 1% every day adds up, and then you look back and see that you have surpassed others just by doing a little bit extra, and being consistent in the extra that you are doing.
Impact it has had on Career
It has been over 20 years since I was a runner on Coach Martin’s team, but the lessons I learned running with him remain with me. I am currently getting a Master’s degree, while being married with three kids, and working a full time job. There are days that I want to just give up, but I think back to the workouts that Martin had us run. We were never allowed to quit a workout. We could run as slow as we needed to, but quitting was not an option. There are days when I think, “Why am I even getting this degree?”, but in those times, I remember that I cannot quit because Martin’s kids don’t quit.
Beyond my career, I would say that Martin has had an even bigger influence on me as a man than in my professional career. I still remember times when he would bring his son Trevor to the track. Coach even let me watch Trevor for a week during the summer, taking him to the park, and to the Bronx Zoo. As I mentioned, my wife and I have three kids, and in the church that we attend there are numerous college students. With the model that was set by Martin, for those college students that are trustworthy we allow them to watch our kids, take them to music lessons, and things of that nature. Coach did a great job of integrating his family into his coaching life, not only was his son around, but Mrs. Martin would cook dinner for us sometimes when we went over to their house. My wife and I constantly have students around our family, and I hope that I live up to the standard that Martin set in regard to embracing people as part of an extended family.
In my year book Martin wrote some kind words, and at the end he closed by taking a couple bible passages, and adding his own emphasis to it by reminding me, “The race goes not to the swift or to the strong, but to those that endure.” That sums up so much about what Martin taught us. It was not just about being faster, stronger, or doing extra, but about not giving up. We thought he was teaching us about track, but he was teaching us about life. In life, we all face challenges, some you cannot be fast enough to run from, some you cannot be strong enough to fight through, but all challenges can be endured if you are willing to not give up. The key is to endure, I am thankful he taught us that lesson, and I love him for it.
— Spencer Lightsy
Director of Admissions
University of Houston-Downtown
P.S. – 1. Even though we had team practices after school, he recognized I needed to do more, so the guy got up at 5:30 AM every weekday to run 4 miles with me before school. It doesn’t fit nicely into the narrative, but it is definitely worth mentioning. What coach does that?!!!
2. After graduating college, one of the guys from the high school team bought a 1990’s Camry to have a car like Martin did when he was he coaching us. Again, doesn’t fit in the narrative, but the stories must be told!
George Albano Column: Martin changes sports, but keeps on winningThe sport of running has about as much in common with powerlifting as a Formula One racing car does with a Mack Truck.
Or about as much as Olympic gold medal sprinter Carl Lewis does with Refrigerator Perry. Or Snoop Dogg with Frank Sinatra. Throw in Barrack Obama and John Boehner while you’re at it.
You get the point, right?
But leave it to Norwalk’s Bill Martin to find some common ground between two seemingly different activities. That common ground happens to be him.
Famous Bislett Games World Record Set By Sebastian Coe
Cell Phone: 203-247-3825
4 Cana Court
Norwalk, CT 06850
New Canaan HS
11 Farm Road
New Canaan, CT 06840