Cole and Kori Martin can’t help but smile and break out into laughter when asked who the better athlete is between the two. It’s a question that has been asked all throughout their childhood and perhaps even more so now that the two are at the same high school.
“Come on now, it’s me,” said Cole, a sophomore at Hamilton High School.
Kori, a freshman, added her rebuttal.
“I’m going to say it’s me,” Kori said. “I feel like I’m just really well-rounded in my sport. I can do it all.”
The sibling duo has created what will likely become a pipeline of incredible athletic ability for the Martin family at Hamilton High School. One younger sibling, Quincee, is just a few years away from becoming a Husky
But for now, all attention has fallen on Cole and Kori. Head Hamilton football and boys’ track coach Mike Zdebski said it’s for a good reason.
“Cole brings leadership, work ethic and dependability. You can trust him,” Zdebski said. “Kori is a phenomenal athlete. When you look at her, she does not look like a freshman. If she wanted to play football, I would take her out there right now.”
The question of which one may be the better athlete may very well become nullified by the time the two youngest Martin siblings reach the high school level. E.J. Martin, the Hamilton girls track and field coach who also coached Cole, Kori and now their siblings in club track growing up, said they may take over the family as the best athletes.
But until that time comes, both Cole and Kori continue to embrace the rivalry amongst one another that stemmed from their childhood in a family built around competition.
“Our dad did a really good job raising us to become athletes,” Cole said. “As soon as we were out of the womb I was training in football and she was out running. It was just how we were raised. Yeah, it comes from our genes but most of it is our upbringing.”
The siblings spent most of their childhood moving from California to Washington then back to California before ending up in Arizona before Cole entered his freshman year at Hamilton. Their father, Demetrice Martin, coached defensive backs at USC, Washington and UCLA before he was hired on the University of Arizona coaching staff under former coach Kevin Sumlin.
A standout defensive back for Michigan State, Demetrice played professionally in Europe and in arena football before becoming a coach. He is currently the defensive backs coach at the University of Colorado.
Cole and Kori grew up on sidelines with their father and were introduced to a competitive atmosphere early on. They’ve both dreamt of being able to compete in their respective sports in at a high level since a young age.
It didn’t take long for those opportunities to come for Cole on the football field. And it won’t be long for the same type of opportunities to present themselves for Kori on the track.
“Every school in the nation is going to give my sister an offer,” Cole said. “She is already hitting milestones some juniors and seniors don’t get to in their entire careers. By her junior and senior years, her future is going to be so bright.”
Cole was named a starter on the Huskies’ defense as a freshman that proved to be one of the top units in the state in 2019. Offers poured in as Cole grew as a player and overall leader on the field.
He continued to improve throughout his sophomore season and helped lead Hamilton to the Open Division championship. Cole finished with 39 total tackles in the shortened 10-game season along with two interceptions. He also had 541 total yards as one of the best return specialists in the state.
His accolades also helped earn more scholarship offers from major college programs, including the likes of LSU, USC, Texas, Notre Dame and Oregon, among others. He currently has 26 total offers with two more high school seasons left to be played. Cole has also set two personal records this season on the track in the 100 and 200-meter and was part of the 4x100-meter relay team that placed first overall at the Nike Chandler Rotary, one of the state’s top regular-season events.
“I came into the season wanting to go to state in the 100,” Cole said. “I’ve really tried to improve and get to where I want to be this season. Now, I feel like I’m just waiting to shine.”
Cole’s freshman campaign on the track was cut short due to the pandemic last spring. But this year has presented him with the unique opportunity to run alongside Kori like they used to in club.
Like her older brother, Kori has quickly started to turn heads with her athletic ability.
She has competed with juniors and seniors in all of her events this season, placing consistently in the top four. She placed first overall in the 300-meter hurdles at the Red Mountain Rampage event on April 2. She also placed second third in the 100-meter hurdles and fourth in the 100-meter sprint at the same event.
At the Chandler Rotary she placed second in the 100-meter hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles. She’s also been part of Hamilton’s 4x400-meter relay team and long jump.
“I love getting better every day and seeing results,” Kori said of track. “Just to be able to do this with my brother, he’s like my best friend. I love competing against him and with him.”
Both Cole and Kori aim to take their talents to the state meet at the end of the season. It’s there they hope to medal in their respective events and stand on the podium together.
It’s a dream that isn’t too far-fetched, especially given their standout performances so far this season. E.J. Martin, who ran track at Michigan State University before starting the Quicksilver Track Club and coaching at Hamilton, believes the two have what it takes to become elite athletes and leaders for Hamilton, a trait he believes will help continue to grow the program in the near future.
“They’ve won together on the club scene and now them having the chance to do it for Hamilton, it’s something I look forward to,” Martin said. “(Zdebski) has the football program heading in the right direction and now we want to do that with the track program. We want it to be on the national map.”