Before he helped lead the Irving MacArthur boys to their brightest pastures on the basketball court, Toby Martin first got his start as a coach in Lewisville ISD.
It was a move that Martin made on a whim back in 2003 as he was looking to jump-start his coaching career but one he recounted as “the single greatest thing that ever happened to [him].”
Martin took the knowledge gained and relationships forged over eight years coaching at Lakeview Middle School and The Colony High School and parlayed that into a productive decade on the sidelines at MacArthur. All the while, Martin hoped that the first eight years of his coaching career in LISD wouldn’t be his last.
He’ll get exactly that opportunity as the next head boys basketball coach at Lewisville.
“It means a lot to me. Just to be able to come back to LISD and start the second half of my career where I began it 18 years ago is exciting,” Martin said.
Martin takes over for Brian Miller, who took the same job at Lake Dallas in May after three seasons leading the Farmers. Lewisville made the playoffs each year under Miller, including a third-place in District 6-6A last season.
Despite the offseason transfer of five-star prospect Keyonte George in 2020, the Farmers still managed a 16-11 record and are projected to return four starters next season, including district newcomer of the year Adrian Banks.
“One of the things that was so intriguing about this Lewisville situation is that it wasn’t a reclamation project. Those guys were already doing well,” Martin said.
Martin’s roots in LISD began nearly 20 years prior. While still living in Oklahoma, Martin had a short-lived stint in retail as a store manager at Hibbett Sports before looking into coaching positions in Texas.
“I didn’t know how the system worked down here,” Martin said. “I applied at Lewisville ISD and just places that popped up on a Google search.”
Although Martin didn’t initially hear back, he had already made plans to visit the Metroplex to attend a career fair in Dallas. As he was making preparations for the trip, that’s when he first received a call from LISD. Upon interviewing and later attending the career fair, Martin mentioned Dallas ISD as another potential landing spot.
“I spent that next year living at home and told my mom, ‘Whoever calls me first, I’m taking that job.’ That’s my sign,” Martin said.
Martin received phone calls from both school districts and roughly 30 minutes apart one morning, but by the time DISD had reached out, Martin had already accepted a position to coach at Lakeview Middle School in The Colony.
Martin spent four years at Lakeview before coaching four more as an assistant at The Colony under Cleve Ryan. During that time, the Cougars made a run to the Class 5A state tournament in 2010 — falling to eventual state champion Houston Yates in the semifinals.
“It put me in the midst of great basketball minds and people I still have relationships with today,” Martin said. “Tommy Thomas was the head coach when I was hired and it was his last year. Over the years, he’s been someone that I relied on for information and for coaching mentoring. Me and Cleve Ryan’s relationship is super close.
“If me and my wife and he and his wife went out to dinner and he was running late, I’d know what to order for him. He actually officiated my wedding three years ago. I really relied on those two during this process. They helped shape my career and make me a better man and coach.”
Martin again made the trip to the state tournament in 2015, only this time as the head coach at MacArthur. He helped guide the Cardinals to six playoff appearances, including a state semifinal appearance that, like in 2010, was dashed at the hands of the eventual state champion (Plano West).
“I tell people that I’m a two-time loser at the state tournament and just keep getting bad draws,” Martin said.
Martin hopes another appearance is in store while coaching the Farmers.
“I’m looking forward to getting back,” he said. “I know that’s a bit of an audacious statement to make, but I’m one of those who feel like I’m going to speak it into existence and when we get back, hopefully the third time is the charm.”
Martin has already begun laying the groundwork for his inaugural season at Lewisville. As the Farmers soldier through summer workouts, the new coach is focusing his early days on the job on building relationships with his players.
“I think that’s the biggest part of getting your team to buy into your system,” Martin said. “I’ve been to workouts this week and the assistants that stayed with me have done a great job. What I’ve just been doing is observing, watching how the kids work, watching the interactions with assistants and trying to build that same rapport.”
For the time being, that means introducing his players to the lighter side of Martin’s personality. He said he plans on ramping up the intensity in August.
“I just want to bring a grit and toughness to Lewisville and put my own stamp on it,” Martin said. “I’m not here to reinvent the wheel. I want to put my own spin on it and hopefully the kids buy into my philosophies and we can compete at a high level.”