As a coach, there is a difficult balance to strike between pushing athletes to do their best while still getting a positive response from them. For Assistant Coach Casey Martin, of men’s lacrosse, this is what he does every day. His main goal is to improve the program as a whole—to make it more competitive. Ultimately, though, he appreciates the unique atmosphere of Brewers lacrosse.
Martin has been involved with athletics for most of his life. After lettering in and starting on his high school lacrosse team, he went on to play at the collegiate level at Fairfield University. In the 2005 season his team won Great Western Lacrosse League Championships and went on to compete in NCAA Championships.
This experience with a high level of play is evident to Vassar’s lacrosse team. As Senior Captain and goalie Andrew Nicol noted, “[Martin] brings the D1 mentality and I love his intensity. He’s still a very talented player so it’s fun competing with him when he is shooting at practice.”
Even after graduating, Martin didn’t stop playing lacrosse. From 2009-2010 he played for and coached the Manchester Wasconians, an English lacrosse team. Martin cited this time as a turning point that made him realize a lot about the sport. “This experience really opened my eyes up to the game of lacrosse and how many people not only play the game, but really love it,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “The chance to play overseas and grow the sport allowed me to want to continue coaching at the collegiate level to mentor and grow future lacrosse players.”
Before coming to Vassar, Martin worked as a graduate assistant at Wagner College. While earning his MBA in Business, he was the Recruiting Coordinator for the men’s lacrosse team. “It was an amazing experience learning the ins and outs of what is expected at the highest level from a coaching and administrative standpoint,” he commented.
Martin feels he can apply what he learned at Wagner here at Vassar, where he works alongside Head Coach Marc Graham. “I decided to come to Vassar after having a few opportunities elsewhere because of Marc,” he explained. “When I came on my interview, we hit it off and we were both on the same page as to what it would take to build this team into a program. So, when Coach Graham asked me to jump on board, I was excited at the chance to build something from the ground up.”
His enthusiasm has influenced the players as well. Sophomore midfielder Scott Brekne is aware of the new intensity of the team. “Having a new assistant coach has brought a lot of excitement to the program this year,” he wrote. “Coach Martin played at a high level for pretty much his entire career and brings a lot of knowledge and experience to the field.”
A greater intensity can mean greater expectations as well, and Brekne admitted that there is pressure to improve. “Coach Martin can be real tough on us at times, but it’s always for a good reason,” he explained. “He holds us to a high standard and expects us to make good plays. The guys have definitely responded well to the knowledge and experience that he brings to the team.”
Martin agreed and commented on how the team has dealt with the challenges. “I demand a lot from each and every one of them and they have responded very well to everything that I ask,” he noted. “It has been a good year, but we still have a lot of work to be done to where we want to be; consistently nationally competitive.”
All of this work does not go unnoticed, as Nicol ackowledged of the time Martin puts into his coaching. “Coach Martin has a great work ethic,” Nicol commented. “He’s constantly recruiting and thinking of ways to get us better. He is always accessible to get some extra work in when we have the time.”
Sophomore defender Jesse Hartman explained, “[F]or the offense he really focuses on organizing the practices so the offensive players really work hard on shooting and passing to go along with the focus of scoring and team offense. Coach also does a good job of understanding opponent’s offenses and making sure our offense can give our defense a good scout to work against.”
The players seem to work well with their assistant coach and Brekne described the perspective that Martin brings to the team and coaching staff. “He’s a young guy who is only a few years out of college, so it’s really easy to connect with him,” Brekne explained. “We have a great balance of seeing him as our coach and as one of our friends. It’s great to have a coach that knows exactly what we go through daily as athletes, students, and general members of a college community.”
Similarly freshman Shane Flattery expressed his optimism about having a new coach. “Coach Martin adds a youthfulness and energy to our team, bringing fast paced Drills to our practices. He is passionate and intense about the sport. We all really appreciate the work ethic he has and the effort he puts in to making us better. He’s funny and relateable, being a student athlete himself only a few years ago.”
As for Martin, the sense of community at Vassar is a part of the college that he enjoys. “The best [part] of my experience has been the ability to get the chance to interact with so many great people within the Vassar community,” he wrote. “We have great support from…the administration and our parent group.”
His understanding of the players is something of which Martin is very proud. “The team is by far the closest group of young men that I have been apart of,” he stated. “We only have 18 players on this years squad, so sticking together and really playing for each other has been the best thing to watch. Everyone on the team is very supportive of one another and this is what makes our team a special group of guys.”