Frank Martin: 'If you lose your dream, don't get mad when you don't get it'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Sunday March 26, 2017


With each game, Frank Martin takes South Carolina basketball to a new height and shares a lesson in the process.

The Gamecocks beat Florida on Sunday to reach their first Final Four, and Martin was understandably emotional afterward. He reflected on losing his job as a Miami high school in the late 1990s coach due to rules violations, which he denies, and the letter Mike Krzyzewski sent back to him at the time.

But to reach this pinnacle was the result of a lot of people and factors, including belief.

If you ever lose your dream or your desire to fight for your dream, then don't get mad when you don't get it. Adversity, adversity, how we handle that, determines what comes forward, and go back to my mom, my grandma,” said Martin, the son of Cuban exiles. “They told my grandma, you got to leave your house now. And you're going to this country where you don't speak their language. And you got to go sew from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and figure it out.

“She lost her husband to a heart attack, so now she was left with my mom and my uncle as teenagers, didn't speak a lick of English. Some how, some way, here I am today. All because of her courage. So, you know, it's just a lot of stuff, man. A lot of stuff right now. But you can't lose your dream.”

One of the first people Martin talked to after the win was his mother, and he detailed what she went through with the family.

“Strongest woman I've ever met. Husband runs out, leaves her, never gives her a penny, she never takes him to court. Doesn't make excuses,” Martin said. “Worked on a salary as a secretary. Raised my sister and I. We'd go to Wendy's or Burger King every two Fridays, that was our family meal. She gave me the courage to try and do this for a living. Every time I'm in a difficult moment and I got to make a choice and do right or do wrong — I made her cry one time when I was a teenager because I made the wrong choice. I'm never making her cry again for making the wrong choice.

“Watching her cry tears of joy because of all her sacrifices have allowed me and my sister to move forward in life. Those are the tears that are important to me. That's extending her life. When you make your mother cry for joy, it gives her more life and she's special lady. Special lady.”

Martin also credited the coaches involved in his life, both as a player and as an assistant. His high school coach became a father figure. Bob Huggins guided him along the way as an assistant. When Huggins left Kansas State for the West Virginia job, Martin was promoted to head coach, and Huggins left the infrastructure in place for Martin, instead of taking it to West Virginia. Martin made four NCAA Tournaments in five years, before going to South Carolina. 

“A lot of people have believed in me and not given up on me when they should have, to be honest with you,” Martin said. “So all that's going through my mind. And when Huggs got the West Virginia job, he could have done what every other coach in America would have done, he could have taken the other assistants with him. That means that (top recruits) Bill Walker, Jacob Pullen, Michael Beasley, all those guys would have gone with him to West Virginia.

“Instead he huddled all the coaches up and he said, ‘It's Frank's turn. I'll be OK.’ And he made sure that we stayed together.”

The Gamecocks will play Gonzaga in the Final Four on Saturday in Glendale.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.