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April 15, 2011 > Local water polo coach passes away

Local water polo coach passes away

By Sanjna Shukla

On Monday, April 11, water polo and swim coach Joseph Martinez passed away at the age of 28. The cause of his death is unknown, but the situation was very unfortunate. After falling in his San Jose home, Martinez complained of difficulties breathing and was taken by ambulance to the local hospital ER, where he passed away. His family only knew that he wasn't breathing properly; the cause of his death will be known in six to eight weeks.

Coach Martinez was the coach of the boys and girls swim teams at Mission San Jose High School, the girls water polo team at MSJ, the Ohlone Renegades' men's and women's water polo team and the summer swim league for the Mission Valley Barracudas. He has been involved in aquatic programs around Fremont for over 10 years, and has played an instrumental role in the coaching staff for many teams. He coached at MSJ for over eight years, and was a dedicated coach to both his high school and league teams.

"Joe Martinez was one of the hardest working coaches I had on our athletic staff," proclaimed MSJ Athletic Director Thomas Thomsen. "He spent countless hours of his day dedicating himself to his athletes. His mentorship was invaluable to so many young adults. Joe coached high school athletics the way it should be coached: integrity, honesty, passion and sportsmanship, along with the pure love of his sport. The many lives he touched will always remember Joe for his never ending love and friendship.

"I will miss Joe's laugh and willingness to always do the right thing even if it meant having to bench his best swimmer or player to teach him/her a life long lesson," Thomsen added. "Joe will always be remembered in my heart as someone who cared about every one of his athletes. As an athletic director, I never had to worry about his athletes being in good hands; he made my job easy to do when it came to his programs."

Water polo was Martinez's passion, and he radiated that energy onto all of his players. He took his love for the sport, and used it to help others excel in water polo.

Connor Williams, coached by Martinez, said "Joe Martinez was an incredible man who was living his dream and shared it with others in such a profound and significant way that changed everyone's lives."

Alyssa Castillo, a student at MSJ, has been coached by Martinez for many years, and had this to say about the coach.

"Joe was a great coach who was always there for me and for anyone who needed him. He did a lot for all of us, meant a lot to all of us, and we are all going to miss him dearly."

Martinez was loved greatly by both his players and their parents, and genuinely cared for each individual's improvement. He kept a record of every time of every swimmer from every season, and did his best to better the players not only as athletes, but also as people.

On Saturday, April 16, Mission San Jose High School will celebrate Martinez's life on what would have been his 29th birthday. Thomsen has extended an open invitation to all those interested in attending.

It will be held at the MSJHS gym, starting at 7 p.m., running for approximately two hours. There will be speakers sharing stories, pictures, slide show and "a time to be together to share memories with others," says Thomsen.

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