Martin retires after 23 years as head coach at Limestone; Yates takes over
GAFFNEY, S.C. -- Jimmy Martin, the man that helped take Limestone softball to unprecedented heights as part of a 23-year head coaching career that has him as the program's all-time winningest coach, will now focus solely on his duties as associate athletic director for facilities following his retirement as the Saints' head softball coach. Amy Yates, who played for Martin and stepped in as the interim head coach this past spring, was named the new head coach.
"From being here as a student, assistant coach and 23 years as head coach, it's really been my life," Martin said. "Seeing how much Limestone and the athletics program have grown and matured in that time has been unreal. I remember stepping on campus as a student in 1985 and the changes since then are unbelievable. When it comes to softball, I feel like I've had 20-25 daughters every year for the past 20-plus years because it really is a family. Being with them and teaching them and learning from them over the years has been as rewarding as any game I've coached in. I've been fortunate to do something I love every day and have someone pay me to do it. It's been a wild ride."
Since being named the fifth head coach in program history in 1990, Martin posted a career record of 614-605-3, having guided the Saints from the NAIA ranks to their current place in NCAA Division II, where he has won two coach of the year awards (2003 and '09).
One of the highlights of Martin's career came on March 20, 2012, when he posted his 600th career victory, making him the first coach in Limestone history to achieve that feat. Of those 600-plus, Martin achieved 30 or more of them in a single season six times, notching a program-record 40 in 2010, the year of the Saints' second consecutive title. He has also posted six seasons in which his teams won more than 60 percent of their games.
A 1989 graduate of Limestone with a bachelor of science degree in physical education, Martin has been a fixture for the Saints for more than 25 years as he assisted with various sports as a student and served as the head women's volleyball coach from 1991-99 and an assistant women's basketball coach during the 1988-89 season.
Yates, who just completed her eighth year as either a player or coach with the Saints, is Limestone's first head coach other than Martin since 1989 when Dennis Bloomer completed an extremely successful seven-year tenure. Named as the interim head coach for the 2013 season, Yates has been a part of two Conference Carolinas championships with the Saints in 2009 and '10 as an assistant coach before assuming the head coaching duties at Pfeiffer in 2011 and '12. In all, as a player and assistant, Yates has had a role in 202 of Martin's 614 career victories.
"Jimmy has done remarkable things for Limestone and the softball program over the years," Yates said. "I had the privilege of not only playing for him but working with him, as well, and I'm grateful to have him as a continued mentor now. It's bittersweet but I am excited to be taking over this program he built and hopefully achieving successes unseen in the past."
Originally joining the Saints as a freshman in 2003, Yates is one of the most decorated players in program history as she is the first four-time All-Conference selection in team history (and still just one of two all time), garnering first-team honors in each of her first three seasons. She was also named Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference/Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year in 2003, becoming the first player to do so in team history. As a result of her tremendous career, she was one of just 11 players selected to the all-time CVAC team commemorating the best players from that era of the conference.
She started all 211 games of her career and finished with impressive marks of a .369 batting average, 251 hits, 169 runs, 59 doubles, 24 triples, 23 home runs, 115 RBIs and 76 steals in 83 attempts. Even seven years after her playing career, she still ranks in the top five in program history in all of those categories except for batting average and RBIs. In both of those she is ninth all time and remains tied for the most doubles in Saints history. In addition to her time at Pfeiffer, Yates also has served as an assistant coach at Newberry, where she helped lead that program to a record 34 wins in her one season in 2007.
"I'm excited about where the program is headed in the future," Martin said. "It's going to be in great hands under the leadership of one of my former players in Amy Yates and I'm looking forward to watching her make it even better."
Yates becomes the sixth head coach in Limestone history, joining Lorraine Bonnell (1977-80), Donna Shropshire (1981), Joy Jennings (1982), Bloomer (1983-89) and Martin (1990-2011) in that select group. She becomes the first former player and third consecutive Limestone graduate to take over the program.