Cleveland’s Homegrown Success: Head Football Coach Martez Barber

It’s no secret Cleveland takes pride in cultivating its own, and Martez Barber stands at the forefront of homegrown success as the Head Football Coach at Cleveland Middle School. His journey from student to coach symbolizes not just personal achievement but the rich traditions of success rooted in his hometown. 

Coach Barber attended Stuart Elementary and was part of the first 7th-grade class at Cleveland Middle School. Graduating from Cleveland High School in 2007, he pursued higher education at Cleveland State and Lee University. This academic foundation laid the groundwork for a coaching career that began in 2011 at Cleveland Middle School. 

Coach Barber's work alongside mentors like Scott Carroll, Mike Connolly, and Donnie Yates was a full-circle experience. After coaching at Cleveland High School for three years, Martez returned to Cleveland Middle School as the Head Football Coach in 2021. He acknowledges the administrative support he has received in this role.

"It's an honor and privilege to be a head coach here. I've had incredible administrative support from our principals and athletic directors," Coach Barber said.

Beyond the game, Coach Barber emphasizes the practical aspects of his coaching philosophy. He recognizes the impact of middle school on a student's development and values the tangible growth he observes in students from 6th to 8th grade.

"Middle school students absorb everything, and to see the three-year growth from 6th grade to 8th grade is really cool as they prepare for high school. I enjoy being able to hear from them after they get to high school – to talk about how the lessons they learned here prepared them for the future," Coach Barber explains.

His partnership with Coach Tygard is seen as a strategic alignment, focusing on a vision to strengthen the Cleveland football brand. He underlines the importance of their collaboration in serving both the community and the high school.

"Coach Tygard has been great at creating a vision where we're all aligned under one umbrella. I consider it my job to serve the community and the high school, so our relationship is important, and it continues to strengthen the Cleveland football brand," Coach Barber said.

As the fifth head coach and the first African American head football coach at Cleveland Middle School, Martez acknowledges the historical significance of his position but maintains a practical outlook.

"To be able to say you were the first to do something, that's what motivates me every day to make sure I understand that opportunities present themselves every day," Coach Barber reflects.

With an upcoming 14th season in Cleveland City Schools, Coach Barber approaches the future with plans to continue to shape the next generation of athletes.