The driver of a van that burst into flames on Interstate 85, near the Interstate 985 split, last weekend has been arrested and faces multiple charges, including six counts homicide by vehicle, Gwinnett County police said.
These are the top stories from the past week.
Gwinnett County police charge van driver in fatal crash on Interstate 85, ID victims
The driver of a van that burst into flames on Interstate 85, near the Interstate 985 split, last weekend has been arrested and faces multiple charges, including six counts homicide by vehicle, according to Gwinnett County police.
Police announced the arrest of Byron resident Monica Manire, 32, Thursday morning. Manire was driving the van, which belonged to We Are Living Proof Inc., a Buford-based nonprofit that works with people struggling to overcome addictions.
Records show Manire was booked into the Gwinnett County Jail shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday. In addition to the six counts of homicide by vehicle, other charges Manire faces include reckless driving, improper lane change and four counts of serious injury by vehicle.
“Investigators believe that Manire made a reckless change of lanes from I-85 to I-985 which caused the van she was driving to flip on its side,” Cpl. Collin Flynn said. “She was arrested and is currently at the Gwinnett County Jail.”
The arrest was just the latest development in a story that has been unfolding this week. On Wednesday, police released the names of six people who died in the fiery crash.
The victims were identified as Columbus resident Alishia Carroll, 34; Mount Airy resident Kristie Whitfield, 44; Kennesaw resident Ashleigh Paris, 26; Atlanta resident Tina Rice, 53; Norcross resident Normisha Monroe, 38; and Ellabell resident Rose Patrick, 34.
Gwinnett County police said six people died and several other were injured after a crash Sat…
The police report for the accident that was released before Manire’s arrest initially showed another vehicle had “unexpectedly” changed lanes in front of the van before the crash.
“Vehicle (No.) 2 then lost control and rolled onto its side, sliding across the two lanes of the highway I-985 exit and colliding with the coming to a final rest in the leftmost lane of the highway I-985,” the report stated.
Police were called to the scene at about 6:30 p.m. on Saturday on a report that a vehicle was on its side and engulfed in flames.
Drivers who were passing by the crash stopped to try and pull victims from the van. Six people died at the scene of the crash, according to the police.
“There’s somebody trapped in there, it’s on fire and there’s all kinds of people trying to get them out,” one 9-1-1 caller told a dispatcher.
“Have they been able to get them out,” the dispatcher asked.
“I don’t think so, but it’s fully engulfed,” the male caller said.
The dispatcher later asked the caller if they caw what happened.
“Yes, the van tried to go from 85 to 985 and hit the bank and flipped,” the caller told the dispatcher.
Another 9-1-1 caller told a different dispatcher that some of the people who were being pulled from van were on fire.
“Pedestrians on the side are taking their clothes and stuff off and patting them,” the female caller said.
At one point, the female caller told the dispatcher that she heard a “really loud banging noise” and that it looked like the van was trying to explode.
“It’s really hot because I can feel it,” said the caller, who told the dispatcher that she was about 100 feet away from the van.
In addition to the six people who died at the scene, several people were taken to hospitals around metro Atlanta and one bystander declined to be transported after they sustained a minor injury.
We Are Living Proof Inc. issued a statement calling for prayer for the victims of the crash.
“We are deeply saddened by the the lives lost in Saturday evenings tragic accident,” the nonprofit said in the statement. “We ask that you join us in prayer for the families and loved ones of the ladies we lost as well as the survivors.”
Duluth High School mourning death of beloved teacher with 'selfless soul'
The Duluth High School community is in mourning after a popular award-winning teacher at the school passed away from an unspecified illness.
The school announced Friday that Geri Flanary, who was one of Gwinnett County Public Schools’ three district-wide STAR Teacher honorees in 2015, has died. District spokeswoman Sloan Roach said only that Flanary died from a “brief illness.”
A note on Duluth High School’s website said Flanary died Friday morning.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of such a selfless soul, beloved teacher and dear friend,” Duluth High School officials said in a tribute posted on the school’s Facebook page. “Ms. Flanary has had such an undeniable impact on so many that her passing leaves us heartbroken. The greatest testimony to her legacy lives on in the lives of the young people she dedicated her life to educate, mentor and love.”
Roach said Flanary received the Gwen Hutcheson Outstanding Educator Award from the Georgia Council for the Social Studies in 2016 in addition to other awards she earned during her career. The district’s spokeswoman also said she led students teams at Duluth to state and national recognitions.
The school has set up a tribute page where current and former Duluth High School students, as well as former and current staff members from the school can share memories and photos of her. The page is located at bit.ly/Flanary.
Flanary’s family has asked that donations be made to the Duluth Care Team in lieu of flowers. Information about the team and making donations is available at www.gcpsk12.org/DuluthHS.
The school said any Duluth student, whether they attended classes in person, or digitally, this year is invited to come to the school’s new gymnasium Monday for grief counseling. Students who prefer to meet with a counselor digitally on Monday can go to bit.ly/3u9Vp10 and use meeting ID 922 7829 4718 and the passcode, 181960.
Barrow County deputies, GBI looking for suspects in possible road rage shooting that left one dead on SR 316
Barrow County deputies and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are looking for suspects in a possible road rage shooting on State Route 316 that resulted in the death of one Athens man and another one being taken to a hospital early Saturday morning.
Ketravian Tyvon Cole, 20, died at the scene of the shooting. Another man, who officials have not identified, was also discovered at the scene with gunshot wounds, and he was taken to a nearby hospital.
It is unclear why the shooting occurred, although sheriff’s office officials initially said it was called in by a 9-1-1 caller as a potential road rage incident.
“Preliminary information indicates a dark colored sedan, unknown make and model, pulled up beside the victims’ vehicle and opened fire,” GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said. “There were no descriptions of suspects.”
Barrow Sheriff’s Office Maj. Ryan Sears said the accident happened just west of Jackson Trail Road on 316 at about 12:09 a.m. They arrived to find that the two men had been shot. The GBI’s Athens office was called in to help with the investigation at about 1 a.m.
The westbound lanes of 316 were closed overnight at the scene of the incident.
Anyone who has information about the shooting is asked to call the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office at 770-307-3080 or the GBI’s Athens Office at 706-552-2309. They can also call 1-800-597-8477, visit https://gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online, or use the See Something, Send Something mobile app.
Return to www.gwinnettdailypost.com for updates.
Gwinnett County school again ranked No. 1 in Georgia, in the top 10 nationally, by U.S. News and World Report
For the ninth consecutive year, the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology has been named the No. 1 high school in Georgia by U.S. News and World Report.
The 2021 Best High School rankings were released Tuesday, with GSMST taking the top spot in the state and ranking No. 9 nationally. The Lawrenceville school, which had a score of 99.95 out of 100, was also ranked No. 13 among STEM schools in the country.
The latest edition ranks more than 17,800 public high schools throughout the country, measuring how well schools serve students from various social and economic backgrounds.
“Families can use the Best High Schools rankings to see how schools compare at the national, state and local level on factors like graduation rates and college readiness,” said Anita Narayan, managing editor of Education at U.S. News. “The rankings also provide insight into academic performance among underserved groups.”
According to U.S. News & World Report, the methodology used for the rankings takes a holistic approach to evaluating schools, focusing on six factors:
♦ College readiness ( which measures participation and performance on AP and IB exams)
♦ Reading and math proficiency
♦ Reading and math performance
♦ Underserved student performance
♦ College curriculum breadth
♦ Graduation rates
College readiness specifically measures participation and performance on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams. The data used in this edition is from the 2018-2019 academic school year, and therefore was not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. News and World Report said.
Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology was ranked No. 1 and South Carolina’s Academic Magnet High School was No. 2 in the rankings. They were followed by The Davidson Academy of Nevada, Illinois’ Payton College Preparatory High School and Florida’s School for Advanced Studies to round out the top 5.
For Gwinnett leaders, President Joe Biden's visit a chance for county to shine, celebrate its diversity
For Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson, President Joe Biden’s visit to Duluth Thursday was a testament to the county’s role in helping him win Georgia and, by extension, the White House.
Biden and his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, came to the Infinite Energy Center for a celebration of the president’s first 100 days in office. It came less than a day after Biden delivered his first address to a joint session of Congress, where he outlined his plans for the coming year.
The county was originally set to host a rally for Biden last month, but the shootings at spas in Atlanta and Cherokee caused changes to the plans for that visit.
Gwinnett’s commission chairwoman said the county is excited that the president has noticed its diversity and potential role in future Georgia and national politics, however.
“I think he recognizes the influence and the progressive change we’ve shifted to,” Hendrickson said. “So, it’s very meaningful to have him speaking to our constituents and our community, because this is a reflection of the nation looks like.
“And, this is the best place to be. If he was going to chose any place in the world, this was the best place for him to choose.”
“Getting Back on Track” was the theme of the drive-in rally in front of the Infinite Energy Center’s arena, but it was more than that for local leaders.
They saw the event as a chance for Gwinnett to shine and celebrate what they saw as the county’s role in Biden’s election.
“Once again, we find ourselves the center of the political universe,” said U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, whose district includes Duluth, told the crowd before the president arrived.
State Sen. Sheikh Rahman, D-Lawrenceville, said, “Gwinnett delivered for President Biden, Gwinnett delivered for Jon Ossoff and (Raphael) Warnock, and I think it shows that he appreciates that. He values that, so I think that’s one of the reasons he’s come here. I think it’s not a coincidence and he’s depending on us for the next step and for the future.”
Gwinnett was once a solidly Republican area, but it has been gradually shifting from red to purple and eventually blue on the political map over the course of recent election cycles.
It is also home to nearly 600,000 registered voters.
After the 2020 election, there are only two Republicans left who hold an office at the county level and several local offices are now held for the first time by African-Americans.
President Joe Biden highlighted higher than expected COVID-19 vaccination levels, as well as legislation successes, but also laid out some of the things left to do, such as passing a new voting rights act named for late U.S. Rep. John Lewis.
There had been speculation before the Nov. 3, 2020, election that, if Biden could do well enough in Gwinnett, it could potentially help him win Georgia’s 16 electoral college votes.
Biden received about 58% of the votes cast in Gwinnett in November. Statewide, he defeated then-President Donald Trump by 11,779 votes.
“We’ve always said as Gwinnett went, so would the state and this last election definitely proved it,” said Snellville resident Anthony Molina, who lead attendees in reciting the pledge of allegiance at the rally. “Gwinnettians came out.
“Gwinnett County has changed a lot, and continues to change and, for the first time, we’re going to have representative leadership in the county.”
Gwinnett County, whose population is approaching 1 million residents, has long been touted by local officials as a window in the nation’s future. It is a majority minority community where about one-quarter of the population was born outside the United States, and within the next couple of decades, it is expected to become Georgia’s most populous county.
Sections of the Duluth and Suwanee area are referred to within the Korean community as “K-Town” because of the large number of Korean residents and businesses located there. The county also has a large enough Spanish-speaking community that it is required under Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act to provide all elections materials in both English and Spanish.
“Actually, being the most diverse county in the state of Georgia, I think America is going to look like what Gwinnett already looks like,” Hendrickson said. “So, not only have we shifted demographically, we’ve shifted culturally, ethnically, politically.
“I mean the whole landscape has changed since 2018 and we continue to see a lot of change and growth, and I think Gwinnett has been responsible for leading a lot of the change efforts across the state ... I think Gwinnett has been leading the way and I think President Biden recognizes that and I think he’s showing us some love.”
Some of those changes are not limited to the ballot box, however. Hendrickson said the county, which has in past strived to be a leader in areas such as water, has been stepping forward to lead the way on addressing issues such as immigration, police reform and housing.
Of course, Biden was not the first member of his administration to hold a rally at the Infinite Energy Center in the last six months. On Nov. 1, Vice President Kamala Harris — then still only a candidate for the office — headlined a pre-election day drive-in rally in the same parking lot.
That attention from the administration has put Gwinnett on at least the political map, according to Hendrickson.
“If people didn’t know Gwinnett County before, they know Gwinnett County now,” she said. “We are truly on the map right now and everyone should be paying attention to Gwinnett because we are going to be a model county of how to address progressive issues at the local level ...
“We are the preferred destination where everyone thrives.”
New Topgolf location in Buford offers golfers of all skill levels a place to enjoy the sport
It might be safe to consider Snellville resident Rudy Jackson a Topgolf fan, but it hasn’t always been easy for him to get to one of the entertainment venue’s locations in metro Atlanta.
Topgolf has had locations in Alpharetta and midtown Atlanta, but those can be a bit of a jaunt from Snellville. Still, Jackson made the trip out to those area, when he could, for years.
“It’s a great facility (with) kind of a controlled environment,” Jackson said. “I love the technology. They’ve got Toptracer, you can play games. It’s just easy to use and it’s a lot of fun.”
Given how much Jackson enjoys Topgolf, he was eager to play at the new location which opened at The Exchange at Gwinnett in Buford this week. The location held a soft opening on Monday — Jackson was actually the location’s first customer — and a grand opening was set for the end of the week.
Jackson, who works near the new location, used his lunch break on Monday to take a couple of swings at the new venue. He was already planning to come back this weekend to celebrate his birthday at Topgolf Buford with his family.
“I’ve been going for probably over five years, but I’ve had to travel all the way to midtown and Alpharetta,” Jackson said. “Now, it’s less than 20 minutes from my house.”
Topgolf’s Buford location is the latest business to open at the Exchange at Gwinnett, which is envisioned as eventually being a sprawling mixed-use district at the Buford Drive interchange on Interstate 85. Once it is fully built out, it is expected to have residential areas, as well as a hotel, a massive Rooms-To-Go which opened last weekend, a Sprouts grocery store, a food hall and several additional restaurants and service-oriented businesses.
And Topgolf will be a major employer. It employs about 400 associates and 18 managers. It also has upstairs and downstairs bar areas, as well as patio areas for socializing, a private event space and a chef-driven menu for guests who want a bite to eat while they play or hang out with friends.
But, on top of all else, it is an entertainment venue.
“Topgolf is a full entertainment complex,” Topgolf Buford Director of Operations Greg Westerholm said. “We try to make sure guests can interact in a number of different ways, from our custom Topgolf menu down to our retail, to just our large open bar spaces and you’ll see we have our giant patio and green space out there.”
Topgolf gives people, regardless of skill level, a way to play golf in a way that mixtures the old sport with new technology.
“Topgolf is target-oriented practice,” Westerholm said. “Essentially what you do is we greet you when you walk in the door and we create a membership for you and then we send you off to one of our bays.
“So, it’s very interactive ... Our targets are huge and we designed it specifically for non-golfers.”
Players try to hit balls that have computer chips inside them into holes, which are referred to as targets, on the 205-yard field.
It is, in a sense, sort of “smart golf” because of that technology.
“One you’re logged into the bay, it reads your information and then it goes out into the target and then we read that antenna it send that information back to you,” Westerholm said.
A screen in the bay tells the player how far their ball traveled — if it went into a target — as well as which subsection of the target the ball went into and how many points they earned from that shot. Each player gets 20 shots in a round.
The points can range from three points to at least eight points per shot. Topgolf’s computer system tabulates scores and ranks players at the bay based on their total scores.
“We have a number of different games,” Westerholm said. “I recommend Top Golf, which is our most popular. Essentially any target in Top Golf is going to score. If you don’t hit a target, you would not score.
“And, then we have some that are a little more aggressive. We have one that’s called Top Pressure. If you’ve every played cricket or darts, essentially if you’re looking at a dart board that was in the ground, you would actually chip out into sections of that target and you would actually close out the target before going on to the next round.”
The Top Tracer game, which is available at other Topgolf locations in the area, is not available at the Buford location yet, but Westerholm it will be layered in over time.
Most of the targets are holes, but there is one at the back of the field, which is a trench. It is so far back that players have to look for a green line along the back fence to spot where it is located. There are also other aspects of a traditional golf course on the field, such as some sand traps.
It has 72 bays players can hit balls from, and each bay has its own set of clubs. About half of the bays are on the ground level, and the other half are on a second level.
“The targets look a little different from the top level here,” Westerholm said. “You get a little bird’s eye view (of the field). More traditional golfers like that first level because it gives them more of a true look layered in with the technology, and then up here, this is more of the entertainment piece.
“But, they both operate the same way.”
There is a way for customers to interact with the setting, using an app to have certain songs play. That can be more entertaining at night as the holes light up in sync with the songs.
The new location is Topgolf’s third in metro Atlanta, joining the midtown Atlanta and Alpharetta locations. It also has a location in Augusta.
A maximum of six people can be at a bay at a time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Glass barriers have been installed between bays, and after a bay is used, it is marked as being unavailable until employees disinfect the bay and mark it as ready for use again in Topgolf’s computer system.
Guests are also asked to practice social distancing because of the pandemic.
Despite the limits on how many people can be in a bay and the need to take precautions because of the pandemic, Jackson said he could not wait to bring his family to the new location.
“I’ve got teenagers, they don’t play golf, but it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “My wife and everybody has fun.”
Topgolf’s street address is 2935 Buford Drive in Buford. It will be open 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays, and from 10 a.m. until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Gov. Brian Kemp signs anti-human trafficking bills into law during visit to Home of Hope in Buford
Gov. Brian Kemp and his wife, First Lady Marty Kemp, traveled to Buford Tuesday morning to send a message that Georgia will take a stand against human trafficking.
The governor signed three anti-human trafficking bills — Senate Bills 33 and 34 and House Bill 287 — into law during a ceremony at Home of Hope at Gwinnett Children’s Shelter. The star of the show, however, may have been the first lady, whose anti-trafficking GRACE Commission’s work led to some of the changes included in the bills.
“Today, as Brian signs SB 33, SB 34 and HB 287, we continue to send that message that there is no place for human trafficking in this great state of Georgia,” Marty Kemp said.
Combating human trafficking has been a major focus of the first lady and her GRACE Commission, which stands for Georgians for Refuge, Action, Compassion and Education Commission. She said it first came to her attention earlier on in her husband’s tenure as governor, when they attended a press conference where 72 school buses were lined up to represent 3,600 kids who are taken into human trafficking each year in Georgia.
The average age of a victim is 12 to 14, she said.
The governor said human trafficking represents a “theft of innocence and opportunity,” which requires decisive action from the state. Addressing the support side for victims is a needed part of that fight, he said.
“A lot of people forget the fact that, in the fight against human trafficking and putting an end to it is the support for victims part of it, so this was another effort to not only go after perpetrators also to support the victims,” the governor said.
He also said trafficking is happening in a wide range of places in Georgia, from metro Atlanta counties such as Gwinnett and Clayton counties, to rural Georgia counties such as Clay County.
“There is no prejudice when it comes to human trafficking,” Kemp said.
He praised Home of Hope officials for their part in helping children who have been the victims of human trafficking.
“As we stand before you today, we know that Gwinnett County is one of the main hubs for human trafficking in our state and the folks here at (Home) of Hope are on the front lines of this fight every single day, and we’re just incredibly grateful for all of your efforts,” the governor said.
“But, this problem is not just singular to the metro Atlanta region. In fact, we know it’s happening in communities in every corner of our state, so we cannot waste time, we cannot ignore what we know is happening all around us and we must take action.”
Home of Hope Executive Director Maureen Kornowa said the shelter was pleased to take part in the bill signing event, adding that all aspects of Georgia’s communities must be involved in the fight against human trafficking.
“It is important that we all come together in collaboration to take care of our most vulnerable population, and so we’re honored to host this very important signing ceremony today to further impact the future success of victims of trafficking,” Kornowa said.
State Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Buford, filed both Senate bills. He said Senate Bill 33 allows victims of human trafficking to file a civil suit against their perpetrator, or anyone else who benefited financially from them being trafficked.
Victims of human trafficking have 10 years after they gain their freedom — or 10 years after they turn 18 if they were a minor when they were a human trafficking victim — to file the lawsuit.
Dixon also said Senate Bill 34 allows a person who has been the victim of human trafficking who have escaped to have the records of a name change, if they chose to change it, sealed by the courts to prevent their perpetrators from finding them.
And, House Bill 287 deals with awareness programs that schools must teach to students. Although it primarily deals with adding tobacco and vapor products to the list of mandate alcohol and drug awareness education programs, it also mandates schools must teach human trafficking awareness to middle and high school students.
State Rep. Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee, authored that bill and State Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta, worked on the anti-human trafficking piece in it after meeting with members of a Girl Scout troop who wanted to raise awareness of the issue.
“One thing people don’t realize is how big these rings are,” Dixon said. “They think it’s an individual or a small group, but it’s actually a larger group that would, in many cases, encompass a hotel or a motel that’s involved either directly or indirectly. Sometimes, (it involves) a trucking or some type of transportation group that they’ll have in the ring and then the ring is actually operating in the community, out recruiting people in or whatnot.
“Over 50% of people that are trafficked, they know their perpetrator. Either it’s a relative, friend, boyfriend (or) girlfriend.”
Dixon said he was pleased to see the governor sign the bills into law.
“We got a lot of bipartisan support with it,” he said. “Of course there were some folks in certain industries that pushed back a little bit because they felt like most of the folks in their industry, which is true, were upright business folks (and) there were just a few bad actors and they were concerned repercussions.
“But the way (Senate Bill 33 is) written, most of it mirrors a federal statute.”
Georgia’s first lady said the bill signing Tuesday was not the end of the effort against human trafficking. There will be a continued effort to combat trafficking through legislation in upcoming legislative sessions.
“With these important initiatives, we can continue taking important steps to end modern day slavery and ensure that our state is a safe haven for those who have been victimized,” Marty Kemp said. “I want every every Georgian, and the perpetrators of this evil industry to hear me loud and clear: These are only the most recent steps in the ongoing fight to end human trafficking, and certainly not our last.
“As more and more Georgians join us in this important mission, we will continue to make lasting change in our state, by giving a voice to the voiceless, supporting victims and bringing justice to the criminals who support this sinister enterprise. We will continue to shine a bright light on a dark place and change lives for the better.”
Hall County deputies ID victim in fatal crash near Gwinnett-Hall line
Hall County deputies have released the name of a woman who died in a two-vehicle accident on State Route 13, just north of the Gwinnett-Hall County line, on Tuesday and announced they are looking for witness who may have seen the crash.
Oakwood resident Grisel Alvarez Martinez, 64, was killed in the accident, which also resulted in a man being taken to the hospital. The man — who has not been identified — had been driving the other vehicle involved in the accident.
The Hall County Sheriff’s Office said the cars crashed into each other on Georgia 13 just south of Holiday Road, in the Buford-Rest Haven area, at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. The state route is called Atlanta Highway in Hall County, but it is known as Buford Highway in Gwinnett.
Holiday Road is about half a mile north of the county line.
Neither Martinez or the man had passengers traveling with them in their respective vehicles, according to deputies.
Officials are looking for possible witnesses, however.
“Particularly, investigators would like to speak to a man spotted jogging southbound along Atlanta Highway during the time of the two-vehicle crash that resulted in the death of Grisel Alvarez Martinez,” deputies said in a statement.
Anyone who saw the accident, or knows the jogger’s identity, is asked to call Sgt. J. Morgan at 770-718-2383.
Return to www.gwinnettdailypost.com for updates.
Longtime Gwinnett basketball coach, current Buford coach Eddie Martin announces retirement
One of the most successful high school coaches in Georgia history is calling it a career.
Eddie Martin, who spent his entire head coaching career in Gwinnett County, announced his retirement this week after earlier informing the Buford administration that he planned to step down as the Wolves’ head boys basketball coach. He went 139-36 with two state titles in six seasons at Buford.
Martin, a member of the Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame, has a career record of 852-263 and has won nine state championships in his long head coaching career, which began in 1981 at Brookwood. The 65-year-old is in his 42nd year in education and just completed his 39th season as a head coach with another state playoff team. His teams won 16 region titles and made 26 state tournament appearances.
“I’m retiring, 39 seasons as a head coach and 42 years in this business, I think I’ve put my time in,” Martin said. “When you’re a coach, you know when it’s time. I am leaving the door open (to a possible return to coaching in some fashion) because you never know. But if this is it, I’m good with it.”
In addition to his two state titles at Buford (most recently in 2019), he won four at Greater Atlanta Christian and three at Norcross, though he logged 350 victories — the largest chunk of his coaching victories at one place — at Brookwood, where he coached for 20 seasons. Brookwood’s basketball teams now play on Eddie Martin Court.
After a brief break from coaching after stepping down at Brookwood, Martin led Norcross to a 170-18 record and three straight state championships. It was the first run of three boys basketball state championships in a row in Georgia’s largest classification since 1938-40.
After Norcross, Martin went 193-29 with four state championships as head coach at GAC, where he coached current NBA standout Malcolm Brogdon, one of five future NBA players he coached as high-schoolers.
“I wouldn’t change anything that I’ve been able to do,” Martin said. “I’ve been at four very, very good schools. We‘ve had success at all four of them. Obviously, not quite the success at Brookwood as we had at the other three, but I still felt we were very successful. I wouldn’t change anything I’ve done. I’ve gotten to work with a lot of great kids. I got to see a lot of kids play at the next level and several play in the NBA. I’ve been able to work with some really, really good assistant coaches that I’ve got to know really, really well. … I’ve been blessed. I really have.”
Martin also played his high school basketball in Gwinnett, where he was a high-scoring guard at Central Gwinnett before playing small college basketball at Alabama Christian and Freed-Hardeman. He averaged 27 points as a Central senior during the 1973-74 season and his 732 points that season was a county record that wasn’t broken until Berkmar’s Tony Akins toppled it in 1997-98. He had a 48-point game, made 20 field goals in a game and made 20 free throws in a game, but regretted that his Central teams never made the state tournament.
After college, he got his start in coaching as an assistant at GAC, spent a year working in private business and coached a season at Lawrenceville Middle. He then became the first boys basketball coach at Brookwood, where he spent two decades, worked alongside his wife Malinda and coached both of his sons, Clint and Brent. Brent has been his longtime assistant, including during his time at Buford, where he has worked since the 2015-16 season.
Martin now looks ahead to retirement, which he said will include more golf and more time with his four grandchildren.
“Try to enjoy life a little bit more,” Martin said of his retirement plans. “I have to be honest. It’s a little scary. I’d be lying if I said anything else. It’s a little scary not knowing there’s a routine I have to follow day in and day out. Here’s the thing. I’ve got faith that God is going to do what he’s going to do with me.”
- From Staff Reports
U.S. News and World Report's 2021 list of the BEST GEORGIA HIGH SCHOOLS includes 22 Gwinnett County public high schools in the top 205 in the state.
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- Community rallying to help family of teens in ICU after boat explosion at Margaritaville on Lake Lanier
- LETTERS: Gwinnett County school board needs to listen to public input
- PHOTOS: 2021 Valedictorians and Salutatorians in Gwinnett County
- MUGS: 10 felony bookings in Gwinnett County Jail
- ON THE MARKET: Unique indoor/outdoor pool, private owner's suite viewing deck make this Duluth area home stand out
- ON THE MARKET: Resort-style pool is the focus of this Duluth estate — and the treehouse isn't bad either
- Weekly Gwinnett County restaurant health inspections for May 16, 2021
- 5 things to do this weekend — May 14-16
- PHOTOS: Gwinnett Animal Shelter Adoptable Pets of the Week — May 10
- PHOTOS: A look at Andretti Indoor Karting and Games' new Buford location
- Most popular dog breeds that don't shed
- ON THE MARKET: Rockdale County "barndominium" features barn living on 53+ acres of land
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This is not a scientific poll — results reflect only the opinions of those voting.