Shortly after Jeremy Martin and Tim Weidlein graduated from Kent State University in 2007, Martin suggested the two take a chance and move down to Florida.

They had become close friends and roommates during their time together in college, and had visited the Sarasota area on vacations from school.

Martin had enjoyed his time in the area so much, that he convinced Weidlein to move down with him on a whim that summer.

Fast forward 12 years later, and the two have made Venice their home.

They’ve both started families of their own and their careers in coaching have kept them close. Following seven years of coaching the Indians junior varsity boys team, Martin accepted the promotion of head girls varsity coach earlier this week.

“Jeremy has been with us for seven years,” Venice athletic director Pete Dombroski said. “He’s coached track and he’s coached basketball here. The student athletes and the coaches like him. He’s really excited about this job, and he knows the game of basketball. It’s a good fit.”

Martin will begin his journey as head coach by holding his first official meeting for any interested players and their parents this Wednesday, May 29 in the new gym at 6 p.m.

While it wasn’t always in the plan for Martin to move to Florida, he’s known for quite some time what he wants to do with his life.

“I was always born to be a head coach,” he said. “I know that.”

Martin and Weidlein started out by renting a house in Englewood as they began looking for jobs. Weidlein was hired as a teacher at Heron Creek Middle School before transitioning over to Venice High a year later, where he teaches Health & P.E. along with coaching football and track.

Martin began coaching AAU and travel basketball before coaching at Pine View, and eventually making his way to Venice as well. In addition to being a coach, Martin is also the director of business development for Palms Home Health.

Looking back on their decisions several years later, the two friends have no regrets about where they ended up.

“It’s been like a movie script,” Weidlein said. “I can’t explain how excited I am for him. To be able to coach here at Venice High and now become a head coach, it’s great. Selfishly, it’s awesome because I get to see my best friend a lot more often now. It’s truly all been a blessing.”

Martin’s mentorSometimes, all it takes is one person to change your perspective of the world.

For Jeremy Martin, that person was travel basketball coach Cornelius Calhoun III.

The sport has taken him from making a record 112 3-pointers in 20 games in high school to walking on with the Kent State basketball team and finally coaching high school sports here in Venice.

But his passion for the sport all began when he first practiced under Calhoun in sixth grade.

It was there that Martin, the son of the president of a hospital, got to experience life from a different viewpoint. Practicing in a run-down gym with teammates who didn’t have much, he saw the power of a positive example in the form of coach Calhoun.

“He really inspired me. He gave me so much hope and motivation,” Martin said of Calhoun.

“He’s given me so much and I’ve always looked up to him. I’ve said, ‘I want to be in his footsteps to give kids opportunities outside of what they have.’ He brought in kids that didn’t even have the money to eat or anything. He even had his own food bank. He did things for the community I truly admire.”

Along with developing Martin’s love for the game, Calhoun also showed him what a good coach was like — attending some of Martin’s high school and college games along with both of his graduations.

Martin and his family remain close with Calhoun to this day, and he believes it’s become his turn to play the role of coach Calhoun in the lives of players in Venice.

“I always think everyone has that one individual that you meet who pushes you in the right direction,” Martin said. “I played football. I played baseball. But he came into my life, and ever since then I haven’t been able to put a basketball down.”

The Lady IndiansMartin has had no doubts about his decision to move to Florida all those years ago. Aside from the obvious perks of lifestyle change — better weather, access to the beach and fishing — he said he has grown to love the local community.

“The community of Venice is top-notch,” Martin said. “I don’t think you can find anywhere else in America that is so close-knit. I think we are blessed to live here.”

And now that he’s serving as a head coach at the high school level for the first time, Martin wants to impart Calhoun’s lessons of giving back on the Lady Indians.

While the girls basketball team has done some community work in the past, Martin wants to take that to another level in the coming years. His vision for the team includes becoming a fixture in the lives of community members and gaining enough supporters to fill the TeePee one day.

He wants to make basketball as beloved as football, volleyball and baseball have become in the city of Venice. However, he knows that will take time.

For now — winning and attendance aside — he simply wants to focus on creating a family culture for the girls basketball team.

Once he gets the girls invested, he said, the results will follow.

“Culture is the first thing,” Martin said. I’m gonna change the culture. It’s going to be family-first with us. I told the girls, ‘I’m going to give you 110 percent every single day. If you can believe in me, I will believe in you.’ I definitely think it’s going to be more of a family approach rather than blame.

“We’re really gonna change the culture. If it’s 12 girls, 10 girls, whatever.

“Whoever it is, it’s gonna be all of us against everyone else.”

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