Jody Martinez began his tenure as the 20th head coach in the history of the Taylor women’s basketball program on May 8, 2017.
Martinez brings 17 highly successful years of head coaching experience at the NAIA level to the Trojan bench. During 16 seasons at Bethel College and one at Southeastern University, Martinez led his teams to 20-or-more wins in all but one season, qualified for eight NAIA National Championship Tournaments and advanced to five Elite Eight appearances, while piling up a career record of 409-184 and 11 Coach-of-the-Year awards.
Martinez comes to Taylor after spending the past two seasons as the assistant coach for the University of Illinois women’s basketball program. During his time with the Fighting Illini, Martinez focused primarily on the development of the program’s post players and saw his players garner a trio of All-Big Ten accolades.
Before accepting the position at Illinois, Martinez led Southeastern to a 25-7 record in the 2014-2015 season, helping the Fire to its first-ever NAIA Division II National Championship Tournament appearance in his lone season with the program. Martinez claimed his 400th victory and earned The Sun Conference Coach-of-the-Year honors.
Martinez spent the previous 16 seasons as the head women’s basketball coach at Bethel, averaging 24 wins per year and posting a mark of 384 victories to 177 defeats for a program that had never experienced a winning season prior to his arrival in 1998.
In addition to winning at least 20 games in all but one campaign in Mishawaka, Martinez led his BC squads to four Mid-Central College Conference Championships and seven NAIA National Championship Tournament appearances. Bethel advanced to the Elite Eight in 2013, 2008, 2007, 2005 and 2001 and added six NCCAA National Championships, as it qualified for the NAIA Tournament or won the NCCAA National Title in 13-of-16 seasons under Martinez.
Martinez was named the MCC Coach of the Year in 2009, 2008 and 2001, garnered NAIA Region IV Coach-of-the-Year honors in 2008 and claimed six NCCAA National Coach-of-the-Year awards.
Martinez began his coaching career as an assistant coach for the men and women’s basketball programs at Bethel in 1991, helping Mike Lightfoot guide the BC men to NCCAA National Championships in 1992 and 1993, before spending time coaching at the high school ranks with Saint Joseph’s and LaVille from 1993 through 1998.
Prior to starting his coaching career, Martinez turned in a Hall of Fame career on the hardwood under Lightfoot at Bethel from 1986-1990. Martinez finished his playing career as BC’s leader in points, blocks, steals, field goal percentage and games played and still leads the program in career rebounds with 1,728.
Martinez was named a two-time NAIA All-American and a three-time NCCAA All-American for his efforts on the planks and went on to become the first Bethel athlete to have his jersey retired, before being inducted as part of the inaugural class of the Bethel College Hall of Fame in 1994.
Following his playing days at BC, Martinez went on to participate in the NBA Rookie Camp in 1990, before playing professionally in Mexico for one season.
Martinez graduated Cum Laude from Bethel with a degree in accounting and business administration in 1990 and went on to earn a degree in business education in 1993, before completing a master’s degree in ministries with an emphasis in Biblical studies in 2006.
In addition to his coaching career, Martinez boasts ample administrative experience after serving as the Athletics Director during his final four years at Bethel. Prior to leading the BC athletics department, Martinez worked in the Associate and Assistant Athletics Director roles, in addition to serving as the department’s Director of Compliance.
Martinez and his wife, Sonya, have two daughters, Hannah and Josalyn.
What Others Are Saying About Jody Martinez
Todd Gongwer – Author of the book: Lead for God’s Sake!
“Taylor University hit a home run by selecting Jody Martinez to lead the women’s basketball program. He represents so much of what is needed in college athletics today, not only as an outstanding coach and basketball mind but also as an excellent husband, father and mentor. I look forward to watching his impact continue to grow as he leads the Trojans toward athletic, academic and spiritual excellence!”
Jonathan Tsipis – Head Women’s Basketball Coach at University of Wisconsin
“Taylor University has hired a great basketball coach and an even better person in Jody Martinez. I have known Jody for almost 15 years and he brings a wealth of success on the court, as well as being a tremendous mentor. He brings enthusiasm to all he does and to those around him. I am excited to see the positive impact Jody and his family have on the Taylor community.”
Matt Bollant – Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Eastern Illinois University, Former Head Women’s Basketball Coach at University of Illinois
“Jody Martinez is a really good basketball coach! He did a great job at Bethel College and Southeastern University. He also did a phenomenal job as an assistant at Illinois. Taylor has hired a Godly man and he will coach with integrity and build a great program.”
Mike Lightfoot – Former Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Bethel College
“Jody Martinez is a perfect fit for Taylor University and the women’s basketball program. I have been blessed to have worked with Jody for over 20 years. I have seen first-hand the wonderful accomplishments he made at Bethel College. Taylor University and the Crossroads League will benefit a great deal in having Coach Martinez back in the league. He is a great coach but an even better person. I am so excited for Jody, Sonya and his girls as they start a new chapter in their lives.”
Mark Lantz – Former Athletics Director at Bethel College and Taylor Alum
“Jody Martinez is one of the strongest coaches and administrators I have ever had the privilege to work alongside. He and his wife, Sonya, make a super dynamic team. You will not find a stronger coach, a more exceptional leader of young people, or a more passionate spiritual leader than Jody Martinez. Sonya is also an amazing woman with collegiate head coaching experience, who mentors and impacts the student-athletes in an extraordinary way. You are truly getting two for the price of one when you have Jody Martinez on your coaching staff.”
J.D. Collins – National Coordinator of NCAA Men’s Basketball Officiating, Former Crossroads League Commissioner
“I have had the pleasure of knowing Jody Martinez for a long time. As Commissioner of the Crossroads League, I got to know Jody as a basketball coach, an administrator and a friend. Jody will excel as the women’s basketball coach at Taylor University. More importantly, Jody will instill Christ-like values in his student-athletes. Taylor University will be blessed to have a great coach that is truly a man of God.
The 2017-2018 season is the first for Natalie Young as a full-time assistant coach with the Taylor University women’s basketball program.
Young is a member of the Bethel College Athletics Hall of Fame as a four-time letter winner in both women’s basketball and women’s track and field. Young enjoyed a record-breaking career on the hardwood with the Lady Pilots, as she currently holds 10 individual school records, including the school’s career scoring record with 2,685 career points. The three-time NAIA All-American also led Bethel to three NAIA Elite Eight appearances and an NCCAA National Championship in her four seasons wearing a Bethel uniform, and her No. 20 jersey was retired upon her graduation.
After playing basketball professionally in Australia for one year, Young returned to the Lady Pilot bench as an assistant coach for the 2010-2011 season and served in that role through the end of the 2014-2015 season, helping Bethel to two NAIA National Tournament appearances, an NAIA Elite Eight appearance, and an NCCAA National Championship.
Young graduated from Bethel in 2008 with a bachelor degree in business administration and earned a bachelor degree in sport studies in the fall of 2011 from Bethel.
In addition to her duties as assistant women’s basketball coach, Young will also be the sports information contact for men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s outdoor track and field.