When spending an evening with Mark Martin two thing become abundantly clear. He is passionate about West Virginia based sports and he is especially passionate about the athletes who hail from his beloved Jackson County.
Martin, a 1979 Ripley High graduate, was honored last week when the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association presented him with the West Virginia Sportscaster of the Year Award. This marked the second time Martin has won the award for West Virginia and it lands him on a list of other multiple winners, including the late Jack Fleming, Gene Morehouse, Bob Bowen and Woody O’Hara along with the current “Voice of the Mountaineers” Tony Caridi and the current “Voice of the Thundering Herd” Steve Cotton.
Each state has a Sportscaster and Sportswriter of the Year. The winners selected and voted on by their peers. Sportswriter of the Year from West Virginia was Charleston Daily Mail Sports Editor Chuck McGill.
In addition to all of the state winners, the NSSA honored Dan Shulman of ESPN as National Sportscaster of the Year and Joe Posnanski (former Sports Illustrated columnist) as National Sportswriter of the Year.
The ceremony took place on June 11 in Salisbury, North Carolina which is the headquarters for the NSSA and the NSSA Hall of Fame and Museum.
Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Costas presented Martin with the award as recipients were treated to a weekend of golfing, tennis and loads of fine southern cuisine.
Martin has been the Sports Director at WCHS-TV/FOX 11 since December of 2000. Some of his honors include a Midwestern Regional Emmy and The Associated Press Lifetime Achievement Award.
WCHS-TV news director Matt Snyder appreciates the dedication that Martin exudes for his craft.
“Mark is the first person in the station and the last one to leave. His level of professionalism is unmatched. We call him the hardest working man in the business. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mark and his accomplishments.”
Outside of his day job, Martin has spent many years doing live sporting events for television and radio, including games for ESPN Regional and FOX SportsNet. Currently, he is the color analyst for the IMG Sports/Marshall University Thundering Herd Sports Network.Martin also does free-lance play-by-play for WVRC-FM in Spencer.
“During the times I’ve been fortunate to win an award, my mind begins to race with visions of all the great people who have supported and given me chances along the way. It’s always an honor when I can not only represent my home state, but my home county and certainly my home town.” said Martin.
One of Martin’s proudest accomplishments is to have been a contributing writer for Jackson Newspapers since 1979 while earning several awards from the West Virginia Press Association.
Ravenswood head basketball and football coach Mick Price did not hesitate when asked about Martin’s contributions to Jackson County youth.
“I have known Mark for over 30 years. He loves the kids of this county and has a tremendous knowledge of the sports he covers.
What he writes is well researched and factual and is written with the intention of helping the kids. Our families have become very close and above all he has been a wonderful friend to me over the years. Mark Martin is very deserving of this award.”
The versatile Martin has written one book and is working on his second. An Unfulfilled Dream: My failure or his will was Martin’s first published work and detailed the life of Jackson County native and retired NFL assistant coach Paul Lanham.
Martin’s passion for sports runs deeper than an Appalachian hollow. The ultra-busy task-master has taken on the job of organizing the Jackson Newspapers (and Ravenswood News) hard copy archives with some help from his friends.
“I just feel that there is so much Jackson County history in those papers and they deserve to be properly stored and arranged for easy reference,” said Martin.
It’s Martin’s passion for the community that he lives in, its sports history and love for its people that make him a beloved figure in Jackson County and West Virginia.