Marty O’Brien, a standout athlete at North Central in the early 1960s and longtime successful coach in Ephrata, died Sunday in his sleep of cardiac arrest. He was 63.
“We’ve lost quite a guy,” said coaching associate Dave Johnson. “He was just a tremendous friend, colleague and business partner. It’s just a tragic thing.”
He and O’Brien, both from Spokane, began their coaching careers together at Ephrata in 1970 and four years later started the highly regarded TBI Baseball Camp.
O’Brien led Spokane’s City League in scoring during the 1961-62 basketball season on a winless Indians team and was an all-league selection. After spending time as youth director at Fairchild AFB, said Johnson, who is four years younger, O’Brien completed his teaching degree at Eastern Washington University and the two were hired at Ephrata a month apart.
For 20 years O’Brien was Ephrata’s basketball coach, compiling a 340-178 record with numerous state appearances and trophies and winning the school’s only state title, in 1993.
He was Johnson’s assistant baseball coach as well with the Tigers who reached the state finals 11 times, winning seven championships.
“He was an integral part of it and a tremendous inspiration,” said Johnson.
O’Brien was inducted into the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in Spokane in June of 2004. Prior to that, in 1994, he had become just the second assistant coach to be inducted into the Washington State Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
A memorial service is planned at the high school on Aug. 4.
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