Mike Martin is walking into an interesting position as the new head baseball coach at Johnson High.
Despite wins being rare for the Knights in recent seasons, he’s not going to be strapped for talent on the baseball diamond.
In 2022, Martin, who comes with a 30-year coaching background, mostly in south Georgia, will be led by left-handed pitcher and Georgia State commit Tristan Nguyen on the mound. Also, he’s got a second talented left-hander Peyton Lavergne, a senior, who will be back next season.
Martin’s hire at Johnson was made public Tuesday through a media release from Hall County schools athletics director Stan Lewis.
“I’m really excited to be here and help us do some good things in football and baseball,” said Martin.
Martin is already hard at work as assistant football coach and, for the time being, making the temporary daily commute from Athens, where he lives with his brother.
Martin said his wife, Kelley, will remain teaching in Effingham County for the coming school year and then relocate to Hall County.
Already, the new two-sport coach is impressed with the culture at Johnson High.
“The kids here at Johnson, we don’t have the numbers, but they are coachable,” Martin said. “When I interviewed for the position, (athletics director) Tony Wagner and (principal) Jonathan Edwards said how nice the kids are at this school.”
Martin has also been impressed with the facilities at Johnson, which includes the new synthetic playing surface and refurbished Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium.
The Valdosta native comes with an equally-impressive background in football and baseball.
Martin has been a head baseball coach for 11 seasons, most recently leading Savannah’s Groves High to the state playoffs twice between 2014-2019.
Most recently, Martin was a football coach at Bradwell Institute in Hinesville.
Martin was also head baseball coach at Mitchell-Baker High, in Camilla, from 2003-2005, then had a lengthy stint at Windsor Forest High, near Savannah.
A left-handed pitcher, himself, during his playing career at Valdosta High, Martin perked up during the interview process when he heard about the talent returning for Johnson in baseball.
Nguyen is a three-year starter on the mound for the Knights, which play in a highly-competitive Region 8-5A.
However, the name of the game, in baseball, is pitching.
And Johnson will have plenty of that in 2022.
“If you have good pitching, at least you have a chance,” Martin said. “I read in the story about Tristan where he said his goal was to help get Johnson back in the playoffs. That will definitely be a goal for our team.”
Also in his coaching career, Martin has been at Westover High, in Albany, and was an assistant football coach at Lowndes High in 2019.
Even though the majority of his coaching career was in south Georgia, Martin also spent eight years coaching in Florida.
Martin is well-informed about the strength of high school talent in Hall County, even though this is his first year in northeast Georgia.
He has a son, Trevor, who lives in Tucker, while his daughter, Kalin, is a teacher and coach in Florida.
In football, Martin said he’s working on both sides of the ball, but will serve as defensive coordinator on William Harrell’s staff.