About two weeks ago, Tony Martin was living the good life on the North Carolina coast.
“I had it in cruise control in Carolina. We’re a final four team almost every year, the kids are phenomenal. I don’t have to sleep with one eye open. The campus is great,” Martin said of Cape Fear Academy in Wilmington where he’s been boys basketball coach since 2017.
But for Martin, who previously coached in the Baltimore Catholic League and MIAA A Conference, the allure of being in the Baltimore region’s premier high school league was simply too hard to resist. Last week, Martin was hired as the new coach at Mount Carmel.
Martin succeeds Trevor Quinn, who stepped down after five seasons. Quinn accepted a position inside the Essex school’s Student Services Department.
“Trevor has done a tremendous job,” said Mount Carmel athletic director Jesse Thomas. “I give him all the credit in the world for building what it is at this point.”
Thomas said Quinn, who has two young children, had been thinking about moving away from coaching. Thomas, who has a relationship with Martin through providing gym space for Martin’s summer camps, reached out to him after Quinn officially stepped down.
Martin said he drove from Wilmington to Baltimore on May 2 to do several interviews with Mount Carmel’s administration and meet with the team. He returned to Wilmington last Monday to notify the Cape Fear administration and players of his decision to leave.
Martin is one of the area’s most successful coaches, winning 335 games while leading Archbishop Spalding and John Carroll to Baltimore Catholic League Tournament titles. He’s the only coach to win MIAA titles in two conferences - the C Conference with Spalding (1996-97) and the A Conference with John Carroll (winning back-to-back in 2011 and 2012).
Martin started his coaching career as the coach of Cardinal Gibbons’ freshman-sophomore team under legendary coach O. Ray Mullis, before moving to Mount St. Joseph as a junior varsity coach under Pat Clatchey, who owns virtually every BCL and MIAA coaching milestone. Along the way Martin has earned a reputation of quickly turning programs into championship level.
In his first season as a varsity coach, in 1996-97 at Spalding, the Cavaliers won the MIAA C title. Two years later, with eventual BCL Hall of Famers Derrick Snowden (starred at Villanova University) and Tremaine Robinson, Spalding was the BCL champion.
Martin left Spalding for an assistant coachiong position at Towson University (where he spent one season) before taking a break from coaching. In 2005, he took over at John Carroll, which was winless the season before.
The Patriots won 15 games in Martin’s first season, jumping to 28 in 2006-07. John Carroll joined the BCL in the 2010-11 season and won the regular season and tournament titles and claimed the first of back-to-back MIAA A championships.
At Mount Carmel, Martin is inheriting an established program. The Cougars went 20-16 last season, reaching the MIAA A and BCL tournament semifinals and finishing No. 6 in the final Baltimore Banner/VSN Top 15 poll.
Martin credited Quinn and his predecessor Tom Rose.
“They’ve built a competitive program,” said Martin.
Mount Carmel graduated eight seniors off last season’s roster. The Cougars, however, bring back a dynamic backcourt with junior Andrew Dixon and sophomore Mario Tatum.
“I spent a good amount talking to families in person, texting or on face-time,” said Martin. “I feel like everybody’s locked and loaded and excited about this new chapter.”
Martin is excited about returning to Baltimore, especially reconnecting with his son, who will be part of his staff. Martin said his daughter recently moved back to the area from Florida.
“I want to go to church on Sundays with my son, watch the Orioles and Ravens play… I don’t care about the cold winters and leaving the cushy life on the beach,” said Martin, who won 129 games at Cape Fear Academy. “I’m super pumped to have my family and friends watch the build.”
Mount Carmel will also have a new girls basketball coach when next season begins. Rob Long, who spent eight seasons on the Cougar sidelines, stepped down last week.
“I just felt it’s time for a new challenge,” said Long. “I love Mount Carmel, my kids went to the school and I love these kids, but I need a new challenge.”
Long, who has coached at College of Notre Dame and CCBC-Dundalk, won 107 games during his tenure at Mount Carmel, which was in the IAAM C Conference when he took over. This past season, the Cougars reached the IAAM A semifinals - their first season in A - after winning the B-1 championship in 2022.