Anyone involved in local high school sports knows the name Al Martus. Goodrich’s long-standing athletic director will officially retire in a private celebration.
The Goodrich community—and those closest to Martus—are rallying around their colleague, friend and mentor after hearing of his battle with pancreatic cancer.
That news put an entirely personal and heart-felt spin on the Goodrich ice hockey team’s Cancer Awareness game at the Polar Palace this past Saturday. A moment of silence prior to the game was called for and Goodrich and Brandon players formed a circle at center ice, bowing their heads in recognition of Al. Goodrich wore bright pink jerseys and Brandon wore dark blue with pink lettering. The front of the jersey bore the slogan’s Goodrich and Brandon with the recognizable pink cancer ribbon, and the back had a matching slogan of 2 teams, 1 fight. Quite a site in a typically loud and raucous venue, but considering the proximity to Brandon and its athletics and student athletes to Goodrich, quite moving as well, as the entire arena grew silent with just the hum of the cooling system heard. It sent chills up your spine.
Martus, 65, served as principal at Peck High School prior to coming to Goodrich and is tied as one on the longest serving athletic directors in the state with his 35-year tenure that was recognized by the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association in March of 2007 when Al reached 30 years of service. That’s longer than some of his coaches have been alive and speaks volumes for the man and his love of sports and kids.
Anyone who knows Al well, knows he IS Goodrich athletics. He lives and breaths to support the student-athletes and their endeavors and their dedicated coaches and fans. A memorial scholarship was established in late 2002 to honor Al’s son, Ryan, a Flint police officer who tragically lost his life along with his best friend when the pair was overcome by carbon monoxide while sleeping in a tent during an opening day deer hunting season expedition on November 15, 2002. To honor the 1990 Goodrich grad, Al started the Ryan J.
Martus scholarship just four days after Ryan’s passing, to go to one male and one female Goodrich student each year commited to follow in Ryan’s footsteps in criminal justice. The first award was handed out in 2003. Al had said it was ojust ne way to keep Ryan’s memory alive, and to help future police officers get their career started.
The Goodrich community was kept busy in that initial scholarship year, when on April 23, Al suffered a heart attack. He wasn’t absent from the district long and was soon back where everyone knew he belonged–in the athletic office, gymnasiums and on the football field. Al has always made himself available to us in the media, during the good times, and even in some of the worst, such as when Kayla O’Mara lost her young life in 2005, with twin sister Kaitlin and friend Danielle Bila critically injured. There have been other controversial topics that had to be addressed over the years, and Al never shied away from addressing those up front, always speaking of the sportsmanship, building of good character in every student and athlete, and what it meant to be part of the Martians and how to represent the school properly.
Now, it’s simply time for everyone to stop and return that goodwill, spirit, and support he has given over the decades. Here at the VIEW, we’ve known Al more on a professional level. However, we set aside that professional fence for now and willingly join hands with the Goodrich circle of support that is currently surrounding Al and his family.