BENNINGTON -- After a month of searching, the next coach for the Mount Anthony Union High School football team was here the entire time.
John Martin, a coach for the Mount Anthony Union Middle School and a physical education teacher, has been chosen to succeed Bill Hay as the newest leader of the Patriots.
"There's a lot of talent at MAU," Martin said. "I want to bring a new energy to the program."
The 24-year-old Martin, a first-year PE teacher at the middle school, is a 2012 graduate of Salisbury University in Maryland and a 2008 graduate of Schuylerville Central School in New York.
He played football at Salisbury and three sports -- football, tennis and basketball -- at Schuylerville.
He was a part-time physical education teacher at Sunderland Elementary and took a job at the middle school in September 2013.
Taking the job, he then e-mailed Mount Anthony athletic director Tim Brown about getting involved in the football program.
"There wasn't a position right away, but then a middle school spot opened up and I said, ‘Sign me up,'" Martin said.
During and after the season, Martin also worked as a volunteer with the varsity program and got some hands-on experience on how that level works.
"I designed the strength program based on what I've learned from Alabama and Duke," said Martin, who has contacts at both Division I college programs. "I love to train athletes, sports specific training. I'm trying to bring that to MAU."
Martin becomes the 15th coach in Mount Anthony history since 1967, and the fourth in the past 10 years.
The Patriots haven't had a winning season since 2009 and were 4-22 in Hay's three years. Martin fully intends to put an abrupt stop to that skid.
"They were definitely better than 0-8," Martin said.
Last season, only 48 students from grades 9-12 played football, out of a student body that exceeds 1,000. So along with the on-the-field change, Martin said he wants to change the culture and the community's thoughts about Mount Anthony football.
"Look at teams around here, like Hoosick Falls and Cambridge, both successful programs, and see how they do things," Martin said. "It's a culture. They have other good fall sports, but they get kids at a young age to try [the sport]. You have to promote it in a way that the kids have fun."
In the same vein, Martin said he wants to make the program something the community -- not just the football one -- gravitates toward.
"John brings to the table a strong football background, coaching experience at the middle school, high school and college level, and a youthful energy with new ideas that our selection commitee believes is need to move MAU football forward in a positive direction," said Brown in a statement on Monday. "Two major directives were to increase participation and to instill a culture of pride where kids are excited to put on a Patriot football uniform ... We feel John can provide this direction."