Sports

Stein closes book on high school

Marty Stein, coaching the Fulton Maroons senior girls soccer team, talks to player A.J. Jacura in North Zone action at Marshall Field. - Lisa VanderVelde/Morning Star
Marty Stein, coaching the Fulton Maroons senior girls soccer team, talks to player A.J. Jacura in North Zone action at Marshall Field.
— image credit: Lisa VanderVelde/Morning Star

He taught more than 8,000 students. Coached another 1,000 or so. After 32 years in education, Marty Stein is done. He officially retires from Fulton Secondary later this month.

The numbers are just as impressive as the man. Well respected by his peers, students and athletes, Stein has always gone the extra kilometre for his school and community.

Born and raised in Vernon, Stein was pushed hard by his father, George, in work and play. Stein, blessed with an infectious smile, has used a much softer, engaging approach in all aspects of his life.

“Marty Stein is a motivator,” said Sharon Shaigec, who has taught beside Stein for decades at Fulton. “He knows when to ‘bark’ but he also has a very sensitive side in a fatherly manner to the kids in his classes that need a pat on the back and a kind word. Marty is a great friend to myself, and to many. He keeps things light.”

Stein finished his teaching career by coaching the Baby Maroons girls volleyball team and the senior girls soccer squad. He also coached senior boys soccer and Grade 8 and junior boys rugby and basketball in his early years at VSS and the old Fulton in Polson Park.

A UBC grad, who earned his master’s degree from Gonzaga, Stein also coached his three children – Andrew, Daniel and Melanie – in soccer and hockey.

“A master athlete and teacher of a wide range of sports, Marty brings a great intellectual knowledge of all sports to his P.E. classes,” added Shaigec, a former national team volleyball player. “He infuses humour into his teachings to keep the kids’ attention and he relates well to kids. Let’s face it, he’s been around awhile so has a lot of funny stories to tell.”

Stein represented B.C. in soccer before playing three seasons at UBC, where he also spent two years with the varsity hockey T-Birds. He played Junior A hockey for the Vernon Essos/Vikings and helped the Vernon Tigers claim three straight Canadian senior B lacrosse titles in the late 1970s.

He attended Harwood Elementary and Seaton Junior High before graduating from Vernon Senior Secondary School (VSSS) in 1974.

“I wrote in my high school yearbook that I wanted to be a P.E. teacher and stay in athletics,” said Stein, who at 56 and after five knee surgeries, keeps fit by refereeing soccer once or twice a week.

His teaching career got off to a rather stressful start at VSSS in 1981. He coached soccer and rugby and ran the intramural leagues, which was exactly what he signed up for. The classroom was more of a challenge.

“I was a phys-ed, social studies teacher and they told me I would be teaching law, general business, accounting and English. I scrambled to call some teachers, get some books and find out how to teach all these subjects.”

Stein moved to the old Fulton in ‘86 and taught German and English in between coaching gigs. He convinced principal Larry Grist to let him teach P.E. and socials at the new Fulton.

“I’ve taught phys-ed full-time since ‘91 and I’ve tried to stress that anything worth doing is worth doing right; go have fun.”

He has always promoted playing a different sport each season.

“Don’t play a sport all year. Kids need rest. They burn out like coaches. The kids are going to find out what sport they want to play. The kids that I coached wanted to be there so they wanted to learn. They’ll tell you when ‘it’s enough coach.’ I have to feed off the kids. The kids in the classroom, they have to be there so it’s a different atmosphere.”

He’s coached and taught so many extraordinary kids to single any out, but he has no regrets on becoming a teacher.

“The good stories outweigh the bad ones and there are so many good memories. There are so many good parents, so many good kids. I love to go to school, but I’m lucky because I’ve got another job to go to.”

Admittedly tough, but fair as a coach and teacher, Stein gets huge satisfaction running into people from his past.

“The one thing I love is I’ve always had kids and adults come up to me and talk to me. Some kids say, ‘I’m glad you were tough on me.’”

Paul Morgan, a financial broker and Rep soccer coach in Vernon, played for the soccer Panthers during Stein’s first years at VSSS.

“Marty and Keith Brookes were the co-coaches and they had a great balance between them,” said Morgan. “Marty was young and just out of university and was still a great player. Keith had the experience. Marty was always approachable. He had an interesting way of being your friend, but still being your coach. He had your respect and he was never heavy-handed.”

Hana Ouchi was a central defender with Stein’s Maroons this season.

“He’s really caring with the players,” said Ouchi, who begins a year Rotary Exchange in France this fall. “He’s passionate about working to make everybody improve. He makes it enjoyable by keeping it light. He’s a great guy.”

The new job Stein is taking up in retirement is really nothing new. He’s been a part-time scout for the Detroit Red Wings for 18 years, recruited by friend and former Viking teammate Ken Holland. Marty has three Stanley Cup rings and has been to Wings’ owner Mike Illitch’s house for post-Cup celebrations.

Stein will now be a full-time bird-dog in western Canada, checking out prospects in the WHL and BCHL.

“I have been scouting between 100 and 128 games a year so now I’ll be doing probably over 150. I make my own timetable for travelling all over Alberta, B.C. and Washington.”

Stein’s father, a contractor, helped found youth soccer in Vernon with buddy Fred Mann, building the clubhouse at MacDonald Park. George, emigrated to Vernon from Germany in 1955 and soon after married Gerda. Two George Stein Memorial scholarships are awarded to graduating youth soccer players each year.

Marty has served on the Coca-Cola Pee Wee Hockey Classic for two decades, the last few years as chairman. All of his kids helped him run summer soccer camps.

A 13 handicap on the golf course, Stein plays oldtimers hockey with the Vernon Canadians on Tuesday nights through the winter. He’s a smooth-skating winger-turned-defenceman.

Stein and his wife Tammy have one grand-daughter which they love to pieces.

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