A lesson learned early has put her at the pinnacle of Wright State women’s basketball for more than three decades.
Jodi Martin, a 5-foot-10 freshman from Bishop Watterson High in Columbus, became a starter for the Raiders by her second college game in 1979.
She was the team’s tallest player and quickly became the top scorer, but soon after momentarily lost her focus.
“Just after Christmas that year we had a two-day tournament and half-way through the first game — I believe we were playing Cedarville — Pat Davis, our coach, benched me,” remembered Jodi, whose married name is now Yaney.
The previously unbeaten Raiders lost to Cedarville, 73-65, and the next day against Central State, Davis didn’t start Jodi.
“I was 18 years old and I was pretty upset and felt sorry for myself. I blamed everybody else in the world,” she said. “But the next day I started to soul search and I realized, ‘This was my fault.’ I had gotten kind of complacent.
“And sitting me down was probably the best thing Pat Davis ever did for me. I remember telling my parents I was going to work as hard as I could to get my spot back.”
A week later, Jodi was in the starting lineup against Capital. She made 21 of 31 field-goal attempts and finished with 45 points, which stood as the single-game scoring record at WSU until Tiffany Webb scored 49 against Butler in 2003.
Jodi continued with the work ethic over her four years at WSU, was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player four seasons in a row and averaged 20.6 points for her 100-game career.
She finished with 2,055 points, which remains the all-time career scoring mark for WSU women’s basketball. She’s also among the top five in 16 other scoring and rebounding categories at the school and in 1988 became the first Raiders’ women’s basketball player elected into the WSU Athletics Hall of Fame.
In the next few days — maybe even tonight — Kim Demmings, the Raiders’ superb redshirt senior guard, almost certainly will break Martin’s all-time scoring mark.
After scoring 27 points in Wright State’s season-opening loss to the Miami Hurricanes Nov. 13 and 26 in a victory at Kent State on Nov. 17, Demmings has 2,030 career points.
She’s 26 points shy of the record and WSU has three games at the Nutter Center over the next five days: Lipscomb in tonight’s home opener, Austin Peay on Saturday and Southeastern Louisiana on Monday night.
Demmings would have broken the record last season, but she fractured her foot in the first 90 seconds of the season opener and was lost for the year.
Now healthy again, she is scoring like before.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to death for Kim,” said Yaney, who has watched some of Demmings’ games over the years. “She has an amazing story and has developed into quite a young woman.
“Records are made to be broken and I couldn’t think of any better hands for mine to go into. I especially like something she said a while back. She said your goal at a place like Wright State should be to leave a program a little better than you found it and that’s what she has done.
“She has set the bar a little higher.
“And that record wasn’t just me. It was part of everyone I played with. All my teammates had a hand in it. They’re the ones who gave me the ball. I was just blessed.
“I didn’t go to Wright State with a goal to become the all-time leading scorer. I wanted to be the best basketball player I could be, the best student, the best teammate.”
Now, at 54, she’s still a good Raider teammate. She plans to be at one of Demmings’ next two games for the passing of the torch.
A few days ago Demmings said she would like to meet Jodi, as well, and hear how she did things.
She might learn how, as a high school freshman, Jodi transferred from Portsmouth Notre Dame to Watterson and didn’t like it. She was tall and stood out and had few friends.
Someone suggested she try basketball, which she had never played, and although she said she was “clumsy,” she made the freshman team.
That was the first year the Ohio High School Athletic Association put on a girls state basketball tournament and the Watterson varsity made it to the Final Four. “I remember sitting in St John Arena, watching and thinking ‘I want to do this,’ ’” Jodi said.
She said she began saving all the money she made from baby-sitting and used it to help pay her way to summer basketball camps: “I went to Tennessee where Pat Head (now Summitt) was just getting started and I went to another put on by Immaculata coach Cathy Rush and another camp in Indiana.”
While Jodi made the varsity the following year, was a three-year starter and went to state with Watterson, she said college recruiting was different then:
“Women’s programs didn’t have recruiting budgets so they gave you auditions. I went to one at Bowling Green and another at Ball State. There must have been 100 girls at each. They’d work you out four or five hours and then decide who to offer a scholarship to.”
WSU’s Davis, though, had seen Jodi play at Watterson and offered her a scholarship. But the Raiders were a Division II program then and Jodi was swayed by Ball State, a D-I school. That is until she found out the gym the women played in was the intramural gym, not the one they had auditioned in.
She chose WSU and became a Hall of Famer.
Although she had an offer to play professionally in Germany after college, she stayed here, married husband Jeff, now a Dayton police sergeant, and started her career at Xenia High.
The couple has three daughters: Jenna, 27, is a chemical engineer and lives in Boston. Jessica is a 24-year-old doctor of physical therapy in Columbus and Jordan is a senior biomedical engineering student at Wright State.
In counseling her own kids and Xenia students, Jodi has stressed one thought: “College athletics are wonderful, but they should enhance your experience, not BE your experience.”
In the process, she said, you can learn lessons that last a lifetime.
And once in a great while, those lessons help set a mark that stands 32 years.
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