Mark Martinez is head coach at San Diego State University, a position he assumed in 2015 after nine years as an assistant coach under the late Tony Gwynn.
In honor of Father’s Day, CCS would like to recognize Coach Mark Martinez as our first Honorary Dadvocate, for his exemplary advocacy efforts. Whether in his role as father, coach, or teacher, Mark is continuously advocating for the students and youth in his life, so that they may all have access to the tools that can help them live healthier relationships, free of abuse.
Mark graciously took the time to tell us why the fight against relationship and sexual violence is so important to him. We are beyond honored to call him our friend, community partner, and most importantly: our ally.
CCS: Can you start by telling us why education around healthy relationships and consent matter so much to you?
MM: I started thinking about all this about a year ago or so, because I don’t think our guys have the education to help deter some of those unhealthy issues; I don’t think they understand the gravity of all this. So for me, it’s important that we catch it on the front end, that we teach them how to have healthy relationships. And I’m not just talking about the relationships with their partners. I’m talking about all their relationships, with their peers and friends, or in groups. It’s important for them to learn how to communicate and not just when things are going well, but especially when it’s hard, when it’s a time of crisis, or when friends are out of line.
CCS: What role does being a father play in all this?
MM: I wish I had started this a lot sooner because parents aren’t having these difficult conversations with their kids about healthy relationships. We all need to learn about these difficult topics in order to educate our kids about domestic violence, abusive relationships, and date rape. It is so important for us to get in front of it! We need to talk to kids in middle school, high school, and college about all this! We need to be an example for other men to follow. The sad part is that as a coach, teacher, or leader, I probably waited too long.
CCS: Well, as we tell all parents in our Healthy Relationships Programs, if we are here, then it’s not too late.
MM: (Chuckles) Then now I have the opportunity to go turbo charge! I wish, being a coach and teacher of young men, to engage our guys in a full on program teaching them these healthy messages, having these difficult conversations with them because you see these things almost every day in the papers or on the crawler on ESPN and we need to get ahead of it! As a father, it’s so important to have these hard conversations. And yes it’s uncomfortable!
CCS: What would you say to other fathers interested in starting these conversations?
MM: First step is taking that leap: We ARE going to have this conversation and not give up on it because it’s hard and once you open that door, you don’t know what you’re going to get. As parents, if we don’t have these conversations with our kids, they are going to go find the information somewhere else. It’s a hard conversation to have, but a very important one.
Thank you Coach Martinez for your determination and continued advocacy to ensure that all youth, especially student-athletes, have access to the knowledge and tools that will support them to live healthier relationships free of abuse. We commend you for your efforts! In our book, you’ve hit a home run!
By Alejandra Aguilar
CCS Prevention, Education, and Advocacy Services (PEAS) Director