Enshrinement: Coach Peggy Martin

Her love for sports developed years before passage of federal Title IX legislation, by women who created athletic opportunities for high school and college female students.

Peggy Martin has never forgotten them. Just as she has never forgotten how she, a native of south Alabama, found her way to Missouri and made her mark as a collegiate volleyball coach.

“My first year out of college, I was a collegiate basketball referee and, at a tournament in Mississippi, it was attended by the University of Central Missouri,” Martin said. “They were coached by the legendary Millie Barnes (MSHOF 2011) and assisted by Dr. Alphadine Martin, and they were looking for a volleyball and softball coach. Later that spring, I interviewed and as they say …”

Yes, the rest is history. Peggy Martin coached UCM Volleyball for 33 seasons (1975-2008), and her success is why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is proud to induct Martin with the Class of 2023.

Martin became the winningest volleyball coach in NCAA Division II history with a record of 1,064-281-8 (.789) in 33 winning seasons leading the Jennies program. That has led her to becoming the winningest collegiate volleyball coach across all divisions, with 1,350 victories, as she has coached at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., since 2009.

At UCM, Martin was a 22-time Coach of the Year, including the 1987 Division II National Coach of the Year when she led the Jennies to a 42-4 record and a national runner-up finish. She led the Jennies to the NCAA Tournament in each of her final 26 seasons and to the postseason in all but one season as the head coach.

Along the way, Martin coached 148 All-MIAA players and 41 All-Americans.

This for a coach who counts numerous positive influences for any success.

Among them were her dad, an outstanding athlete, and her mom, who “encouraged me to be whatever I wanted to be, before many women had that option,” Martin said.

Title IX was passed in 1972, requiring public schools to offer sports for girls. Years before then, Martin attended St. Catherine’s High School in Mobile, Ala. Coaches Anna Crow and Bobbie Campanaro created teams for the girls.

“These were two of the most competitive people ever,” Martin said. “I learned early that it was OK to be passionate about sports and winning.”

Martin attended Indiana University, where women professors created teams for female students and joined the Women’s Recreation Association. Martin competed in basketball and softball all four years, and field hockey for three.

That’s when the idea of coaching came to mind. Two years after graduating, while earning a master’s degree at North Carolina-Greensboro, Martin was a graduate assistant in basketball and volleyball. She was mentored by volleyball coach Pat Hielscher, who took Martin to numerous clinics.

At UCM, Martin turned the program into a winner. It was about five years in when the Jennies took off. They were partly influenced by the Missouri State University Volleyball Program, MSU’s Dr. Mary Jo Wynn and MSU coach Linda Dollar – all of whom are MSHOF inductees.

And to think that volleyball wasn’t her only job. Martin led UCM’s softball program to a 174-156 record and two MIAA titles in 11 years. She was twice the MIAA Softball Coach of the Year. She also was an assistant coach for Jennies basketball for the 1976-1977 season and was Assistant Athletics Director from 1986 to 1988.

In volleyball, the 1981 team was the first to win a regional, launching an incredible decade of success.

The secret to that success? It wasn’t simply Xs and Os but managing personalities.

“That really evolved over the years as so many things changed, the game itself, the folks playing the game, the growth of women’s sports. So you, as a coach, must be flexible and grow with the sport and the people around you,” Martin said. “I have always felt the most important aspect of coaching is not Xs and Os but people managing.”

She thanks many for her success, especially players and other supporters.

“I would like to thank all the strong women who came before me that fought for the rights of young women to have the opportunity to play sports. I am considered a pioneer and there were women before me who made this all happen,” Martin said. “And to the men, who supported us because they wanted their daughters to experience all the benefits that athletic competition afforded their sons. For all these folks, I am very grateful.”