Ingle Martin - Christ Presbyterian Academy
NASHVILLE SINCE 1982.
At 35, Ingle Martin is still the best athlete in any room he walks into, including the football locker room at Christ Presbyterian Academy where he serves as the Head Football Coach. Martin is a legend in Tennessee prep sports lore. From 1998 to 2000, he won thirty-two straight games as the quarterback for Montgomery Bell Academy, claiming three consecutive state championships and was honored with a litany of state & national awards. Though he achieved greatness on the gridiron, football wasn’t initially the path he thought he’d follow.
“Growing up in Nashville, I played a lot of different sports,” said Ingle. “I thought about taking a lot of them seriously, and football was probably the last one I thought about. In high school I had a coach, Coach (Randy) Bowers, who believed in me early on and thought I had some potential. From that point, football has taken me everywhere that I’ve gone.”
After a record-setting prep career, Martin had his choice of where to attend college. “I was born in Nashville, and grew up a Tennessee fan,” he said. “I had to take the allegiance out of it during recruiting and do what was best for me.” Ultimately, the allure of playing for the legendary Head Ball Coach in Gainesville drew him away from his home state. “At that time, Coach (Steve) Spurrier was at Florida. Florida had won 7 out of 11 SEC Championships, and if he says he wants you to come play quarterback…you go play quarterback. Also, as an 18-year old I wanted to experience something a little bit different, so being in a state where I didn’t know anyone gave me some excitement.”
Martin redshirted in 2001, which would end up being Spurrier’s last year at Florida. Ron Zook was hired, and Ingle served as Rex Grossman’s backup in 2002, playing in 11 of 12 games. Zook and the Gator coaching staff recognized Ingle’s athleticism and made every effort to get him on the field as much as possible, putting in specific packages for him at quarterback and wide receiver. He even served as the team’s punter for most of the season. With Grossman declaring for the NFL after the 2002 season, the path was clear for Ingle to take over as the starting quarterback.
He began the 2003 season under center, and through four games completed 61% of his passes and had a 140.5 QB rating. But after spending two years as understudy to a Heisman finalist and finally getting a chance to fulfill his dreams, Martin was benched for heralded freshman and Zook-recruit, Chris Leak. The demotion was difficult for Martin, and he considered walking away from the game. “Having dreams and aspirations to be the starting quarterback and to have that taken away…the biggest thing it showed me is that the sun’s gonna rise tomorrow, no matter how good or bad life is.”
In the Spring of 2004, Ingle decided to transfer to Furman University. The fresh start revitalized not only his football career, but his faith in the coaching profession, as well. “I wouldn’t be coaching if I hadn’t transferred,” he said. “I was ready to be done with football after how everything went at the University of Florida.”
Martin says that once he arrived on campus at Furman, he noticed that the coaching staff was composed of men he could relate to, and who had priorities that more closely mirrored his own. “I went there and found really good men that were my coaches that showed me that you could be a coach and a father and a husband,” said Martin. “At the time, I’d seen what Division 1 high-level college football looked like where guys were working non-stop and that’s all they really cared about compared with guys at Furman who had time for their families, had time to teach Sunday School, and had time to go to lunch with their kids.”
Ingle started at quarterback for Furman for two seasons, setting numerous school records and being selected to first-team All-Southern Conference and first-team All-American honors as both a quarterback and a punter. He led the Paladins to the Division I-AA playoffs in both seasons, was elected as the team captain in his senior year and won Furman’s Vince Perone Award as the team’s Most Valuable Player.
In 2006, the Green Bay Packers selected Ingle in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. He would spend one season there as the third-string quarterback behind starter Brett Favre and backup Aaron Rodgers. He spent the next three years bouncing around in the NFL playing for the Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos before retiring from professional football in 2009. His sporadic stint in the highest level of football didn’t have the negative impact that his experience at Florida had. Rather, it gave him the perspective and fortitude for what was to come. “I think any time when you’re 23-years-old and you get fired four out of four years…my NFL career was ‘make a team, get cut…make another team, get cut…you learn perseverance, you learn to be grateful for the opportunities that you’ve been given. It was amazing and fun and something I didn’t really plan on.”
After his playing career, Ingle went into teaching and coaching. He served as a coach under his former mentor and high school coach, Ricky Bowers, at Ensworth in 2010 and helped lead the team to the first of four state championships. In 2011, Ingle was hired as the head football coach at Christ Presbyterian Academy and has compiled an 84-16 record in 7 years, winning a state championship in 2014.
Though he has built a wildly successful program, Ingle has done so while taking the same balanced approach to his duties as his coaches at Furman. Martin is open with his faith, and he preaches that character, accountability, selflessness, leadership and servitude are valued far above winning a football game. “We try to talk about balance and talk about how football can help you the rest of your life,” he said. “There’s our Goal, and then there’s our purpose...Our Goal is to win every game, but our Purpose is much deeper, and that’s growing these boys to be good leaders. Ultimately, we’re going to be remembered by what kind of teammate we were, how did we as a senior treat the freshmen? Were we grateful to our parents? Were we grateful to the people in the cafeteria?”
Entering his eighth season as history teacher and head football coach at CPA, Martin continues to be a positive influence on his students and players and setting them up for success long after football is over. “You want a kid that understands that he’s a part of something bigger than himself,” explained Ingle.
The Nashville boyhood legend has returned home and is helping groom a new generation of leaders at Christ Presbyterian Academy. But he’s quick to remind you of what’s most important in his life. “The birth of my two sons…watching my wife walk down the aisle…that’s way better than anything I ever experienced in football,” said Ingle. “This is what I do, it’s not who I am.”
Ingle and his wife, Jennifer, live in Nashville and have two sons.
Read more about Ingle’s playing career here
See the CPA Lions Football schedule here
Follow them at @christpresacademy