SJSW Weekly Notebook: Baseball community continues to rally around Timber Creek


Timber Creek High School junior Jon Martinez saw his family’s home go up in flames two weeks ago. It was the second time in less than two years he’s lost a home due to disaster. (RYAN LAWRENCE, South Jersey Sports Weekly)

In case you missed it, Timber Creek High School second baseman Jon Martinez, the Chargers leading hitter, has been dealt adversity regularly as a teenager.

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He’s been homeless twice in the span of less than two years after losing two family homes, most recently three weeks ago when his family’s Gloucester Township residence was totaled by a house fire.

But the South Jersey community continues to rally to support Martinez and his family (both of his sisters also attend Timber Creek and compete on the lacrosse and track and field teams). Cherry Hill East, Bishop Eustace, Triton, Camden Catholic, King’s Christian, Eastern, Shawnee, and Highland have been among the baseball programs to make donations to Martinez’s family and Paul VI will do so later today.


“It’s been incredible, it really has, it’s been eye-opening,” Timber Creek baseball coach Jon Kates said. “I’ve had a lot of guys reach out and I know more is coming. I said to (Bishop Eustace coach) Sam (Tropiano), we go at it on the field but it’s times like this that really shows we’re one big family and community.”

Again, you can read the whole story here. You can also help the Martinez family by reaching out to Kates via email ( or visiting the GoFundMe page for the family.


South Jersey Sports Weekly Player of the Week

Eastern High School
Track & Field


When you find yourself in the same conversation as former Eastern star and Olympian English Gardner, you’re doing something right.

Jailya Ash, the younger sister of fellow Vikings standout Jewel Ash, ran a 12.00 in the 100-meter dash finals at the Rowan Open to take first place and record the fastest time in the event in the state this year and also the fastest time at the Rowan meet since Gardner ran an 11.87 in 2010.

Ash also PR’d in the 100-meter hurdles at the Rowan Open to collect a third place medal to go alongside her first-place one in the 100-meter dash.

“My first impression was that we’ve had two young ladies from the same family win this event three years apart,” said Eastern sprinters and hurdlers coach Barry Jackson. “It’s been amazing to see (Jailya’s) growth. I don’t want to compare sisters, but her sister is so talented. Usually what happens is you’re disappointed with the younger athlete (because it’s hard to follow or match the older sibling), but I could see some brilliance in (Jailya) early.

“Sometimes her youth precluded her from really thinking about the ability that she had. She had some brilliant races and some races that weren’t so brilliant. But now she’s more consistent, and training more consistently. She has just tremendous potential that’s yet to be seen. I’m extremely excited because he’s already quite accomplished and she’s competitive, too.”


Games to Watch
Wednesday, May 15 – Tuesday, May 21

Baseball: Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic Championship
Haddonfield vs. Shawnee

Wednesday, May 15
6:30 p.m. at Eastern Regional High School

Softball: Cherry Hill West vs. Washington Township

Wednesday, May 15
3:45 p.m. at Washington Township High School

Tennis: Sectional Championships

Monday, May 20
Times to be determined, hosted by highest seed

Boys and Girls Track: NJSIAA Non-Public Sectional Championship

Monday, May 20 and Tuesday, May 21
4 p.m. at Donovan Catholic High School, Toms River

Boys Golf: NJSIAA Tournament of Champions

Monday, May 20
11 a.m. at Hopewell Valley Golf and Country Club, Hopewell


Coaches Corner

School: Eastern
Sport: Volleyball
Years as a head coach: 25 years 

A quarter-century with Eastern volleyball: Armour’s journey as the head coach of Eastern’s boys and girls volleyball teams began in January of 1995 when he saw the school had a job opening in the newspaper. Armour had been playing volleyball most of his adult life at that point and had run the volleyball program of the Garden State Games since 1988.

Armour background in the sport landed him the job and he was tasked with building up the young Eastern program. Armour remembers telling Eastern’s athletic director at the time, Frank McAleer, what needed to be done to make the Vikings competitive.

“Volleyball in South Jersey started in the fall of 1993,” Armour said about a conversation he had with McAleer. “If we’re going to compete, we need to go to North Jersey. I have to get on a bus and travel. If you want this to be a good program, you can’t tell me no.”

“I haven’t been told no yet,” Armour added with a smile.

Reaching 400 career wins: On April 8, Eastern defeated Camden Academy Charter, 2-0, to give Armour his 400th career win with the boys program. After reaching the milestone, Armour heard from many people in the sport he’s interacted with over the past 25 years.

“(I heard from) a lot of former players, way to go coach,” he said. “Some of the guys who officiate regularly, they sent congratulations. I have this poster with a big 400 on it. The kids put their name on it and what year they played.”

Promoting youth volleyball in South Jersey: In addition to coaching at Eastern, Armour is also the co-founder and director of South Jersey Volleyball Club. Armour started the club in 1999 with Ed Cohen and it has grown immensely over the past two decades.

“When we first started in 99, we had two girls teams,” Armour said. “We went from having 20 kids (in 1999) to having 168 or 169 this year.”

Additionally, the club now has 20 coaches, all of whom either played for Armour through the club or at Eastern, or played against Eastern in the Olympic Conference.

Fun fact: Armour has coached in a variety of sports in his life. His first time as a coach, however, came while he was in the Navy. Armour was stationed on the U.S.S. Aylwin, a destroyer escort, in 1971.

“We were in dry dock for a while in Boston Naval Yard, so we put a football team together,” he said. “I was the coach. We went undefeated, we won the first Naval division football tournament.”

The secret behind running a program for 25 years: Armour’s tenure at Eastern includes a number of conference championships with the boys and girls programs as well as a state championship with the girls team in 2001. When asked about the secret behind his coaching success, Armour simply said he was firm, fair and honest with his players.

“I’m a very disciplined person and that really helps,” Armour said. “Kids, even more so than today, they need direction. They need to know somebody’s real.”


Scenes from Last Week

Boys Lacrosse: Paul VI at Timber Creek
(All photos: MIKE MONOSTRA, South Jersey Sports Weekly)


Softball: Eastern at Cherry Hill West
(All photos: RYAN LAWRENCE, South Jersey Sports Weekly)


More Stories from Last Week


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Ryan is a veteran journalist of 20 years. He’s worked at the Courier-Post, Philadelphia Daily News, Delaware County Daily Times, primarily as a sportswriter, and is currently a sports editor at Newspaper Media Group and an adjunct journalism instructor at Rowan University.
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