South Carolina coach Frank Martin’s road to his first Final Four wasn’t an easy one, and he credits his wife, Anya, with keeping him sane as he tried to build up the Gamecocks program.
“The last five years have been hard,” Martin said after advancing to the Sweet 16. “I haven’t been home. I’ve been trying to build a program, build a fan base and obviously recruiting. She’s moved into a community where she knew no one. She has handled our children and taken care of our home.
“She is my backbone. She’s been unbelievable and I needed to go over there and let them know how much I love them.”
Anya is a New Yorker, so advancing to the Final Four with a win at Madison Square Garden was extra special for Martin. After the game, he was asked if he could have ever dreamed that could happen.
“No. My wife turned me down seven times to go out on a date. Seven. Seven,” Martin said. “And the day she made the mistake on going out on a date with me, I never let her go. And she mothers my children, she puts up with my nonsense about work, when we came to a new community where she knew nobody at, she's been dealing with our kids while I've been running around the country trying to build a program. New York's a special place to me, my sister, her husband, their children, they live in the Cobble Hill area in Brooklyn. They run a family, little family restaurants, they work every single day, the way my grandmother and my mother taught us to work. My wife's family, same story as my family. Unbelievable that she's the one that gets put in my life.”
At what point does persistence become creepy? Is it after the third rejection? The fourth? It’s definitely weird after she turns you down for the sixth time. The fact that Frank and Anya appear to have a rock-solid relationship after all that is a bigger upset than the Gamecocks making the Final Four.