On Tuesday, March 19th, Saint Joseph’s University sent out an announcement stating that after 18 years of dedication and service to the SJU Men’s Basketball Team, Phil Martelli was let go as the SJU Men’s Basketball coach.
Students and alumni have mixed emotions made by this seemingly-sudden decision, due to the heart and soul Martelli put on the court within his years of leading the men’s basketball team. The first of many issues being that the day of his termination was also the feast of Saint Joseph, for whom our university is named after. Respectively, this year Coach Martelli lost his father, Phil “Pops” Martelli Sr., the biggest support system he had by his side at basketball games.
Though this news is still raw for many fellow students, and his replacement is still to be determined, it would be inexcusable not to honor Phil’s lifelong service to the Hawks at Saint Joe’s.
After 10 years as assistant coach, Phil Martelli had his first year as head coach for SJU in the 1995-96 season, and took the Hawks to the NIT Championship game. A pretty good year for a rookie if you ask me.
The legend himself is more than a coach to many people whose blood bleeds cardinal red with the Hawks. Martelli is a father, a son, a mentor, and an inspiration to those who follow him. He also, thankfully, has a book titled “Don’t Call Me Coach: A Lesson Plan for Life”, where those not lucky enough to be driven by his mantra in person can access his greatest motivations through text.
Among his successes as a coach, some Hawks that were lucky enough to be coached by Martelli were drafted into the NBA including Deandre` Bembry, and Langston Galloway, and Dwayne Jones.
Phil Martelli made the Saint Joe’s basketball mania what it is today. As mentioned in sjuhawks.com, “Martelli is the Hawks’ all-time leader in career victories with a mark of 338-237. Martelli has guided SJU to 20 or more victories seven times in his 18 seasons, which is the most for any Hawks’ coach.”
After his incredible sky-high journey on Hawk Hill, Phil Martelli aims to inspire everyone to live up to the expectations that Saint Joe’s embeds in us; quite frankly, that’s the magis.
Phil’s time spent on Hawk Hill with the men’s basketball team alone does not even come close to the legacy his journey will leave behind for years to come. His consistent passion and drive for the game is heart wrenching enough to stick within the souls of many, and live on as long as the Hawk.
We will miss you, Coach Martelli, but just like the Hawk, your legacy will never die!