BETHANY — If you plotted Rocky Martin's career path on a graph, the line would be about as straight as the ‘W' on the side of Putnam City West's football helmets.
From high school to college to middle school and back to high school, Martin is now exactly where he wants to be, as PC West's new head coach.
But to get there, Martin took a less-than-common path.
After a playing career as part of four bowl teams at Colorado State, Martin returned to his high school home at Cherry Creek, Colo., to begin coaching.
Then he spent three seasons as a graduate assistant at the University of Akron, but he eventually realized college coaching wasn't for him.
“I loved college football, but family is so important to me,” Martin said. “We put in hours at the high school level, but college is different.”
At that point, Martin looked for an opportunity to get back to working with younger kids.
His mother's family was originally from Oklahoma, and his parents moved to the state after his father retired from coaching in Colorado. So he started looking for jobs in the state, and landed at Irving Middle School in Norman.
Two years ago, he got hired to coach linebackers on John Jensen's PC West staff, and it was a good fit because, like Jensen, Martin's primary passion was making a difference for young people.
“That's why I got into coaching,” Martin said. “You can change the lives of kids, not only on the football field, but throughout the rest of their lives, by giving them something they can take to heart and carry on with them.”
Martin has more than 50 players out for spring practice, which began a week ago, and hopes that number grows in the fall. Coming off a winless season, Martin is pushing his players' competitive limits in spring ball.
“Competition-wise, everything has been bumped up,” senior lineman Ben Holley said. “Everything we do is a competition. We run everywhere during practice.
“There's a mentality of pushing yourself. I see a lot of people excelling, not only physically, but mentally. I feel like we're chomping at the heels of victory.”
The competition, combined with Martin's aggressive coaching style, is building a drive to succeed in some of the players who might feel like they're destined to go winless because of the school they play for.
“The more competitive we are, the more we push each other,” senior running back Joseph Wilcots said. “We've just got to come together as a team.”
Experiencing the last two seasons under Jensen helped Martin see the overall picture of what the former coach was building, and now, he'll add his own touch going forward.
“John Jensen laid a great foundation with the things he's done for this program and the school,” Martin said. “Now, I'm going to build on it. I know the kids we have and they've been working hard all winter.
“I'm excited to see what we can do. I think we have the athletes in the building to compete.”