Fred Martin

Fred Martin is in his 41st year as an official in the Salem Basketball Officials Association. He has served as President of the SBOA four times and currently is currently serving in the role of Past-President for the fourth time. He has led and mentored hundreds of his fellow officials with the following principle: “It's not about us. It's about the kids.”

Fred Martin is arguably more recognizable to a wider swath of Oregon high school basketball fans than many of the legendary coaches he's worked for. After all, he has officiated hundreds, if not thousands of games throughout Oregon. Most have been in the mid-valley and all as a representative of the SBOA. It's fair to say that he has been in most of the gyms in western Oregon. From the small 1A and 2A schools to the largest 6A classification, Martin has administered the rules of the games and managed its people. Thousands of players – boys and girls - have been participants with Fred and his fellow officials in regular season games, playoff games, and state championship games. He has worked games for some of Oregon's most impactful and successful coaches and greatest, most outstanding players.

Officiating is an interesting avocation. In any given contest there will be dozens of times that many in the gym will disagree. Throw in the emotions and passion of the participants and you have a situation that can lend itself to less than positive feelings toward those men and women in charge of administering the rules. However, it is not an exaggeration to say that Martin counts a lot more friends as the result of his officiating career than enemies. The Oregon Athletic Officials Association 2016 “Basketball Official of the Year”, he points with pride to the fact that – despite the emotions and passion in the gym, he has never disqualified a coach from a game. Why? Because “it's not about us, it's about the kids.” Martin has established a reputation that in many ways puts coaches and players at ease, because they know he will work hard, he will work with integrity, and he'll be fair. And they also know that he will listen. Not unlike an outstanding judge, he allows the participants to feel heard.

Martin was actually born in Los Angeles. He and his family – mom and dad Fred Sr. and Freida, older brother Wayne, and younger brother Larry - moved to Salem from Compton when Fred was 11 years old. In 1970 his parents purchased a chicken farm with approximately 3000 chickens that the family operated until 1972. It was also in 1970 when Fred Sr. and Wayne founded F&W Fence, a company they build from scratch. In 1986 Fred became the sole owner of F&W when he bought out his dad, who was “more than ready” to retire. F&W, under Martin's ownership, has since become the leader in fencing in the Salem-area.

Fred is a 1977 North Salem graduate. He was a wide receiver on the football team (where, interestingly enough, one of the quarterbacks was fellow '24 Beacon honoree Kary Hadden) and a guard on the basketball team, playing for Bud Peterson and Lou Littlejohn respectively. While he would have loved to have participated in a spring sport for the Vikings as well, spring is when Fred Sr. and Wayne needed him most. Fences needed to be built. After a short stint at Oregon College of Education (now Western Oregon University) as a basketball player, Fred dove full-time into the family business. And in 1982 he began his career as a referee.

Fred's contributions to our community don't end with his outstanding career as a basketball official. Hardly a school or athletic facility in the Salem-Keizer School District has not been touched by the work of F&W, many times on a moment's notice and, not infrequently, setting aside costs to get the work done. Fred is also very proud of his work inside the Oregon State Penitentiary. He has had the opportunity to mentor and work with inmates, teaching valuable skills. Fred fully realizes that the prisoners he's working with have made mistakes, in many cases egregious mistakes. But “they are still people”. The Asian Healing Garden that Fred and his “helpers” built inside the OSP walls holds a special place for Martin.

Of course basketball is never far away for Fred, and Fred and F&W are especially well-known for their involvement with Salem's 3on3 street basketball extravaganza - HOOPLA. A founder of HOOPLA in 1999, Fred has officiated the summer tournament each year since it's inception. Long summer days of volunteering in weather that can be challenging, he and F&W also have provided the very recognizable tie-dyed shirts that identify the tournament officials.

Fred has been married to wife Jeri for 36 years. Jeri is a retired kindergarten teacher of 38 years and also a North Salem grad. Together they have two adult sons. Bryan is 36 and Geoffrey is 34. Both sons are graduates of Western Mennonite High School (now Western Christian). Both boys played high school basketball for legendary coach Gary Hull. Both sons attended Corban University, from which both graduated and at which both played basketball. Bryan, who is currently working with Fred at F&W, is currently serving as an assistant coach for the boys program at Western Christian and also is the head girls coach for the Pioneers. Geoffrey, a teacher at WC serves as the leader of the social studies department, is pursuing his administrative degree, and is the assistant head coach of the boys basketball program.

Fred Martin has made his mark in Salem-Keizer. He has been a long-time and very successful basketball official and leader of basketball officials. He continued the legacy of his father in his leadership of F&W Fence. He has given of his time in many community events, most especially HOOPLA. Without men and women like Fred interscholastic high school sports don't take place. At 64 years old, he's getting closer to retirement from the business he took over from his father but there's still tread on the tires. There is no talk of retiring from his work as a basketball official. And really, why would there be, because “it's not about [me], it's about the kids”. Fred Martin is a Beacon.

By Bryan Sutherland