Dear St. Albans Family:
Over the past two months, we have been engaged in a competitive national search for our next head football coach, with the goal of identifying a leader who will take our football program to the next level of excellence in a way that both honors the history of this program and charts a bold new vision for its future growth.
During this process, our search committee and a group of coaches, administrators, and current student-athletes met with a very impressive group of candidates from across the country. One candidate ultimately separated himself from the field in this highly competitive process, based on his deep knowledge of the game, strategic vision, forward-thinking ideas, strong mentoring relationships with our student-athletes, and commitment to leading St. Albans football into a new era of excellence.
I am pleased to announce that Orion Martin will be our new head football coach.
Orion came to St. Albans in 2017 to serve as assistant head football coach and help coach Upper School wrestling. He has also taught Form C and B physical education and coached Lower School football, wrestling, baseball, and track and field.
Orion received his B.S. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), where, after walking on to the football team, he became a four-year Division I letterman. At Virginia Tech, Orion received second-team All-ACC honors as defensive end, played on three ACC championship football teams, and was named team captain and MVP in his senior year. He also received the President’s Leadership Award. After graduating from Virginia Tech, Orion played professionally for the Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions in the 2009 preseason before becoming a graduate assistant coach for the Virginia Tech football team (where he learned from the legendary coach and defensive coordinator Bud Foster and helped lead the team to an ACC championship in 2010). He went on to serve as an assistant varsity football coach and special education teacher at Franklin County Public Schools in Rocky Mount, Va. From 2013-2017, he served as head varsity football coach and taught special education at Martinsville High School in Virginia, where he transformed the football program. The team had a 1-9 record in his first year and then went 8-4 (its first winning season) in his last. For his efforts, he was named Piedmont District Coach of the Year and Conference 28 Coach of the Year.
Orion takes a holistic approach toward coaching: His philosophy encompasses the body, mind, and heart. Under his guidance, athletes learn the fundamentals, build their strength through conditioning, and repeatedly practice pressure situations so they are mentally prepared in a game. At the same time, he encourages boys to thrive in the classroom, to be leaders, to help others through joint service projects, to love the game, and to try always to do and be their best, on and off the field.
Warm, supportive, tenacious, and enthusiastic, Orion has gained the trust and admiration of his student-athletes and their parents. Many football families contacted us during the search to express what a profoundly positive and inspirational influence Orion has been on their sons. Current and former football players also spoke with such reverence and affection for Orion, emphasizing his impact as a coach and role model. Orion knows and loves the game of football. His “high football IQ” and unwavering commitment to excellence were recurring themes of his candidacy. Our recent 40 to 7 victory over Fork Union Military Academy—the only football game we were able to play this season because of the pandemic—showcased Orion’s ability to install innovative offensive and defensive schemes, as well as his instinct for making critical mid-game adjustments.
Besides being a brilliant football strategist, play caller, and motivator, Orion is also deeply committed to the principle that our football program is an extension of our school’s mission and values. As a coach in both the Upper School and Lower School, he knows our school culture and the entire arc of the St. Albans football development process. He has crafted a compelling year-by-year plan to grow and strengthen our program and our football players, from C Form to varsity. He is excited to partner with Admissions to bring outstanding, mission-appropriate scholar-athletes to our program. And he is also eager to cultivate strong mentoring relationships with our football players who aspire to compete in college, at both the Division I and Division III levels. I look forward with great anticipation to watching the program flourish under his leadership.
The search process was led by an outstanding search committee consisting of Sam Schaffer, associate dean of faculty; honorary alumnus Doug Boswell, our iconic former football coach; OJ Johnson ’97, director of the Skip Grant Program and head basketball coach; Arthur Jones ’13, one of the most accomplished graduates of our football program; Joe Viola, director of admissions and a successful former football player; and Deanna Coll, one of our outstanding athletic trainers who works very closely with our coaches and student-athletes. I would like to thank the members of the search committee, along with everyone who shared their insights through recent town halls and other forms of outreach. Finally, I would like to thank newly appointed Athletic Director Dan Ryan for his engagement in this process as it reached its final stages and his strong endorsement of Orion as our next head football coach.
My sincere appreciation for your support of St. Albans football. I believe this program has the brightest of futures under Orion’s leadership; and I hope you will all join me in congratulating him and wishing him the greatest success in this new role.