Ernesto Martinez is going out on his terms.

The longest-serving soccer coach in Del Rio High School history is retiring at the end of the 2017-18 school year, bringing an end to a teaching career that began 40 years ago in San Angelo.

Though he’s probably best known as the Queens soccer head coach, Martinez taught world history for three decades and twice was named as teacher of the year. Most recently he’s served as not only the head girls soccer coach, but also as an athletic coordinator with the San Felipe Del Rio CISD.

Martinez said now is the time for him to retire … while he was still healthy enough to be able to travel to see his adult children and grandchild and to care for his mother.

Martinez’s coaching career began in the fall of 1994. His first job was as the junior varsity boys soccer coach, but the following year he became the head Rams soccer coach following the departure of the former coach.

Five years later, Martinez moved from the Rams program to the Queens program and remained there for the remainder of his coaching career. Under his guidance, his teams made the playoffs 11 times, won five district championships and reached the state Sweet 16 three times, most recently in the 2015-16 season.

Martinez said his team’s success has always been a product of the junior varsity program, and to that he credits his assistant coaches with preparing them for what it takes to play high school soccer.

“I want to say ‘thank you’ to all my assistant coaches that have worked under me. Your endless hours in helping develop our athletes did not go unnoticed,” Martinez said. “Coach Tani Canchola did an awesome job when he was under the Queens program and continues that tradition with the Rams program today. Coach Angel Castillo has been a great asset as well being the JV head coach for these past few years. I also have to thank coach Carol Ealy and coach Isabel Treviño for all they’ve done with the program in recent years.”

Treviño is not only the Queens assistant coach, but a product of Martinez’s coaching style. A two-time Defensive Player of the Year in District 29-6A, Treviño went on to play soccer for Schreiner University before joining the Queens coaching staff. The success of players like Treviño are the things Martinez said he remembers most from his time as a coach.

“Never in a lifetime did I dream that I would go this long in coaching. I loved working with these girls and I loved coaching. I think if it wasn’t for soccer I would have already retired,” Martinez said. “The district titles, the bi-district and area wins and making the Sweet 16 … those are great moments I will remember, but more than that I will remember the players. Girls like Isabel Treviño, Clarissa Leon, Melissa Garcia, Beatriz Lerma, Greta Linares, Kristina Rosas, Serenna Ortiz … those are some of the greatest people I’ve coached and I’m here because of them.”

“Thank you to all the boys and girls that wore the Rams and Queens uniform for me for the past 23 years. It has been an honor and a privilege for me to have worked with hundreds of student athletes during my tenure as head coach,” Martinez added. “I am extremely proud of what these student-athletes have accomplished after graduation. They have pursued careers that have enabled them to become better role models for their children as well as members of communities across the U.S. It is always a joy to run into them and listen to them about when they played but more importantly what they have done to better themselves.”

Martinez will be honored at the end of the year sports awards ceremony, but San Felipe Del Rio CISD Athletic Director Ric Smith offered a small preview of what he would say during the winter sports awards ceremony when Martinez surprised him with an award for all his support during Martinez’s tenure. Martinez said he’s always been grateful to work with this district’s athletic directors and had the honor of working with every A.D. this district has had since its inception in 1971.

“It’s been a challenge and honor for me working under the six A.D.’s that have served the SFDRCISD since consolation during the summer of 1971: Lupe De Hoyos, Eddie Baca, Carol Mireles, Troy Hinds, Dan Hurley and now Ric Smith. They all treated me with the greatest respect and gave me the opportunity to coach and work with all these student athletes,” Martinez said.

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