Article, Spring 2011 - Ohlone College Renegades Women's Water Polo

Mission San Jose coach Joseph Martinez, 28, dies after fall at home

By Phil Jensen, Oakland Tribune. Staff writer Rick Hurd contributed to this report.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011-Reprinted from Mercury News.

Joseph Martinez, a coach who was instrumental in the development of girls water polo in the Fremont area, died unexpectedly Monday in San Jose. He was 28.

Martinez fell in his home in San Jose on Monday afternoon and was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he died. A spokeswoman at the Santa Clara County coroner's office said a cause of death will be determined in six to eight weeks.

Two men standing in front of seated boys.Mission San Jose water polo coaches Joseph Martinez and Mark Lawrence during a 2004 practice at Ohlone College. -Photo: Anda Chu, Bay Area News Group).

"All we know is that he fell and had trouble breathing," his sister, Jenifer Martinez, said.

Joseph Martinez was the girls water polo coach and the boys and girls swimming coach at Mission San Jose High. In addition, he was the girls coach of the Ohlone Renegade Water Polo Club and a coach for the Mission Valley Barracudas swim team.

"He really spearheaded the development of girls water polo in the area," James Logan High girls water polo coach Martin Munoz said. "This guy was just a great guy, a totally selfless dude. He cared so much about giving back."

Martinez, a Mt. Pleasant High-San Jose graduate, coached many water polo players who moved on to the collegiate level, Munoz said. Kaitlyn Morris, who graduated from Mission San Jose in 2007, played at Arizona State, and Lindsey Morris, a 2008 graduate, played at San Diego State.

Mission San Jose athletic director Tom Thomsen said Martinez coached at least eight years at the school.

"As a coach he was a true professional. He was one of those guys that you could count on as an athletic director to do the right thing," Thomsen said. "He wanted the kids to know there was a difference between right and wrong. That was something I always admired about him. I never had to worry about his swimmers or his water polo players."

A Facebook page memorializing Martinez was started Monday and drew 445 responses in its first 24 hours.

"He wasn't just a coach, he was a friend to everyone," said Anna Kim, a Mission San Jose senior who played water polo and swam for Martinez for four years. "He actually cared about his swimmers, got to know them. He always believed in us."

"When it hurts this much to know someone is in a better place now, you can only realize how that person has touched your life in a way no one else has," said Sarah Lucarelli, a Mission San Jose sophomore who was coached by Martinez since she was a 6-year-old on the Barracudas swim team.

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