ALHS names new head coaches

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 5, 2001

The search for the new head football coach at Albert Lea High School went far and wide.

Saturday, May 05, 2001

The search for the new head football coach at Albert Lea High School went far and wide.

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When it reached the final stages, and references were contacted, there was always a long pause when people were asked about Jeff Marty. And the answer was always the same.

&uot;It was always, ‘Boy, we’d hate to lose him,’&uot; said ALHS Athletic Director Ross Williams, who seems happy to have Marty on board – and glad the hiring process is complete.

&uot;It’s been a lengthy process, probably longer than people in the community or myself would want,&uot; said Williams. &uot;But we wanted some people to choose from, and we were looking at the total package of teacher/coach, because that’s what’s best for the district.&uot;

A committee that included Williams, another administrator, school board members and booster club representatives decided Marty is their man. Williams said between 15 and 20 people expressed interest in the position.

&uot;Jeff Marty is the best person for the job, coaching and teaching,&uot; said Williams. &uot;I’m very excited about his decision to come to Albert Lea.&uot;

Marty is also excited. It’s a big move for his family, which has lived since 1996 in his home town of Pelican Rapids, a community of about 2,000. Marty’s wife, Donna, has been the cheerleading director there and has been hired in the same capacity at ALHS. They have four children: Zach, 13; Caitlin, 11; Colter, 8; and Grayson, 5.

&uot;We’re looking forward to it, we’re real excited,&uot; said Marty, 35. &uot;We were kind of hoping to find something along these lines to get into.&uot;

Marty has always been into sports. In high school, he was all-conference in football and a member of a region runner-up basketball team and district champion track squad. He played American Legion baseball in the summer.

Marty played tight end for one season under John Gagliardi at St. John’s and, after sitting out a year, played three seasons at Moorhead State, starting at outside linebacker as a junior and defensive end as a senior.

The first teaching job for Marty was at Springfield-Comfrey, where he coached junior high football an served a a varsity assistant.

Then his career took an unexpected turn.

&uot;I was looking at graduate school, and I walked into a Navy Reserves office to see what kind of opportunities they had,&uot; said Marty.

It turned out he qualified for the nuclear power program, and Marty spent the next six years in the Navy.

In 1995, the family returned to Pelican Rapids and bought a farm. A year later a position opened on the football coaching staff and Marty was hired as defensive coordinator. He returned to full-time teaching the following fall.

&uot;The career move just kind of happened,&uot; said Marty. &uot;We just kind of phased out of farming.&uot;

His coaching run has been enjoyable at Pelican Rapids, which won the Class 2A state championship in 1997.

Marty knows Albert Lea has not fared nearly as well, coming off back-to-back winless seasons while playing in the brutal Big Nine Conference.

&uot;It’s one of the challenges, I guess,&uot; said Marty. &uot;I was told they’ve had some problems with numbers of participants for various reasons. Hopefully, it’s something I can come in and help turn around. I have what I feel is a natural enthusiasm for the sport.&uot;

Marty’s plans for this month include a meeting with players and his coaching staff and, after that, house hunting. Then his thoughts will turn to his math and science teaching duties at ALHS and, of course football. He’s obviously passionate about the sport.

&uot;There are a lot of things kids can learn from it, it’s a wonderful teaching atmosphere,&uot; said Marty. &uot;There are a lot of types of athletes who can participate. I get excited about the games, the fun on Friday night, but at the same time you can learn a lot about yourself, what you can accomplish as a group if you’re willing to do something for someone else.&uot;