Emily Martin, one of the University of Dallas’’s many student-athletes whose senior softball season was canceled, was able to put a positive spin on the pandemic impediments, even through the drastic changes no one expected at the start of this strange semester.
Martin has played softball for all four years while she pursued her undergraduate in Interdisciplinary Studies, and has been named on the SCAC Spring Student-Athlete Academic Honor Roll every season. Playing mainly as one of the team’s pitchers, she is able to return to play in the spring of 2021 because of the extra season of eligibility SCAC allowed to current seniors.
Martin comes from Santa Fe, California. Her mother was a softball coach and put Emily on a team at the age of four. From early on, she remembers playing around with “the big kids.”
At the end of this year, Martin will have completed 18 years of playing softball, from grade school, to high school, clubs and eventually college.
Martin had committed to another college before she visited Dallas, but after Beth Krissek, the previous coach for UD’s softball, reached out and showed Martin what UD had to offer, the team stole her heart.
“It kind of was a smaller team, and everyone just seemed really nice when I met them,” Martin recollected, explaining her reasoning for choosing UD for college. “I just thought ‘I’ll just go for it!’”
Throughout her time at UD, Emily has watched the program change. From coach to coach, player to player, Martin reported the softball team has become both smaller, and more committed.
When asked to describe the current character of the team, Martin repeatedly used one word: goofy.
“We play our best, but I think when we play too serious, that’s when we really mess up, so we do our best to focus, but we’re also kind of silly while we’re doing it,” Martin said with a smile in her voice.
Martin has taken it upon herself to be the team’s encouragement in the games. She believes it is important to keep everyone talking and commending each other between every pitch.
Lindsey Devlin, a sophomore, said via text when asked about Martin that “she’s always yelling [when she’s] in the dugout and cheering on her teammates.”
Karina Campo, another second-year player who is one of Martin’s fellow pitchers, said via text that Emily’s positive presence is felt by everyone on the team.
“She’s one of those people that you can always go to. She constantly dedicates her time to her teammates and to better herself for them. On the field, she gives her all. This year she had to fill in a position she usually doesn’t play and she stepped up to the challenge. She just makes everything fun.”
Martin explained that she had to fill the second base position because of an injured teammate and it was the most fun she’d ever had playing softball at UD, demonstrating Karina’s mindset of perpetual positivity.
Martin said that she had to learn how to balance sports and school all throughout middle and high school, which is why it is easier for her to maintain an impressive academic record in college. However, it is not without sacrifice that she’s able to keep her GPA up.
“I try to do it before practice if I can because I get really tired after practice, but if I can’t then staying up an extra hour isn’t going to hurt me,” Martin recalled. “And also the team – usually we end up studying together in Clark or something.”
Before the campus was shut down and the Dallas County stay-at-home order, SCAC announced the cancelation of all-conference and non-conference games. UD Athletic Director Dick Strockbine informed the coaches, who passed that message down to the team.
Martin explained that receiving the news of the season being over was hard for the team, especially the two seniors, even though they were expecting it.
“I think I got a message, or a Facetime or a call from literally every single player, saying ‘I’m so sorry,’ things like that,” Martin said, chuckling. “I think the whole team cried … we were all basically together or talking at least and I think the whole team was crying at that moment. So that was sad.”
When the news first arrived on March 12, everyone thought the season was over for the graduating seniors. Happily for Martin, when the SCAC announced another season of eligibility for seniors, she was already planning to continue her education at UD, pursuing a Master of Arts in teaching, and is interviewing next year to be teaching in the area, which made the decision to return easy.
“I’m gonna take advantage of my corona-year,” Martin said, laughing at her new coined term. She felt relieved to know she could continue playing the sport for one more season.
When asked about her future and why she felt called to teach, Martin said she saw a shortage of good teachers and believed she could help fill that need. She shared that throughout her education she had a mix of good and bad teachers, and the good examples drove her to want to teach.
“Everyone needs someone like that in their lives, to help them and encourage them,” Martin said, wanting to be that person for her future students.
Martin repeatedly said that she wanted to encourage, encourage, encourage.
Through the testaments of her teammates and her own words, Martin can be seen as the image of a selfless, dedicated woman who strives to not only support her teammates, but her future students as well.