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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Hawk basketball players remember Phil “Pops” Martelli Sr.

From left to right: Jared Bynum, Mike Muggeo, Taylor Funk, Charlie Brown Jr., and Markell Lodge sit in the row Phil “Pops” Martelli sat in during practices, saluting him. PHOTOS: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

Sam Britt ’20 and Nick Karpinski ’21 co-wrote this story

A week after Phil “Pops” Martelli Sr., the father of men’s basketball Head Coach Phil Martelli, died on Feb. 6, St. Joe’s men’s basketball players reacted by sharing personal memories that stood out to them. They also shared what Martelli Sr. meant to the team as a whole.

Redshirt senior forward Markell Lodge

“He always knew how to put a smile on every player’s face. He was the Hawks’ heart and soul. It’s completely different for us when we don’t see him after the games. We would always shake his hand. I still feel his presence in the building, just looking over at where he used to sit.”

Redshirt sophomore forward Charlie Brown

“Pops is the definition of loyalty. That speaks volumes about him. [We’ll carry his presence] going out and playing hard, representing St. Joe’s the right way. Whether it’s leaving the arena or coming in, not seeing Pops resonates deep with this team. We all know how important he is.”

Senior guard Mike Muggeo

“He was genuine. He would always seek you out after a game or practice. It shows who he is, who coach is and the whole Martelli family. I am very appreciative to be a part of their way of supporting people.”

Senior guard Chris Clover

“My freshman year, Pops was always the guy that was standing there with his fist up. And after the game, Pops would always shake my hand, he shook everyone’s hand, and freshman year that was such a big thing for me because I was new, I was a freshman, I was trying to learn my way. He just made me feel like a part of the team. As time went on we got closer and closer. He always said some encouraging words, even after a loss.”

Junior Guard Toliver Freeman

“My first year as a freshman at practice, I shot the ball a lot, and one of the first things he said to me is, ‘You can really shoot.’ So that was heartwarming just to know someone of his magnitude, because he’s a big part of this program, complimented me in that fashion when I first got here. He’s definitely going to be missed, but we still feel his presence because he’s such a big part of this program.”

The empty section where “Pops” used to sit

Freshman guard Jared Bynum

“After every home game, he would be waiting outside of the locker room to shake our hands. It was a great experience. After the St. Louis game it just felt different because he wasn’t there with us.”

Redshirt junior guard Lamarr Kimble

“Every time we came out of the locker room, he’s always sitting there. He made sure he shook every one of the guys’ hands, thanking them for blessing him to watch the game. It didn’t matter if it was a win or a loss. His approach and loyalty was always the same. He’s one of the most powerful figures that will ever walk through this program. Every player that’s come through here will remember Pops. His impact will forever be and continue to be, that’s why every time we hold our fist up now, we hold our fist up with Pops.”

Sophomore guard Taylor Funk

“Every time you see him he would always say thank you. He would sit outside our door and not leave until he said thank you to every player. One time I snuck out to talk to my family and I was out on the court for about an hour. Somebody came out and told me Pops was waiting for me because I was the last one here. I couldn’t believe he just waited there just to say thank you.”

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    JoeApr 5, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    Who is worse, Father Blee or Jill Bordensteiner?