In one moment, everything can come together. For redshirt freshman Mara Martin, that moment came when she was walking off the court during the Michigan volleyball team’s loss to No. 1 Nebraska last week.

Coach Mark Rosen looked over at Martin, who was sitting at the far end of the bench and asked if she was having fun. Martin, the team’s starting setter, looked back over and gave her coach a smile from ear-to-ear. From that point on, everything has been going better than planned for Martin and the Wolverines.

“She was sweating like crazy, and you could tell she was exhausted,” Rosen said. “And she just looked back at me and gave me this great smile, and it wasn’t BS, and it wasn’t fake. I knew at that time that she had adjusted to the speed, and she was comfortable and (could) just compete and play.”

Ever since the game against Nebraska, Martin has been improving with every practice and game. Her positive attitude has allowed her to take what Rosen teaches her and help her game.

“When (Rosen) asked me if I was having fun it just made me feel good to know that he noticed it, too,” Martin said. “I know he probably had some doubts in me as well starting off, but he knew that I could get it done. And that made me feel really good.”

Rosen isn’t the only one that has noticed Martin’s daily improvement and confidence boost. Her teammates are constantly in awe of how quickly she is catching on to the speed of the college game and how far she has come since the start of her redshirt season.

“Mara has taken some huge strides, and she has really come into her own,” junior captain Erin Cobler said. “She has been playing with her own personality and with a lot of confidence, and it’s working because she has become a very, very solid setter for us. I have a lot of confidence in her.

“That confidence comes from seeing how hard she works both in practice and after practice. She really earned my respect, and I don’t have any hesitation about her being in that spot at all.”

Martin came into Michigan as a very raw player who had potential but simply lacked the experience to immediately contribute to the team. After spending all of last year and this past summer in the gym, Martin won the role of starting setter for the Wolverines. At the team’s annual summer camp, Rosen was worried about Martin’s progression and feared she might be beat out by another teammate for the starting slot. But when the team resumed a regular practice schedule, Martin shocked her coach and teammates, coming into the gym strong and blowing away the competition.

“I spent every single day over the summer training and running and working hard so that when we came back, I would be ready,” Martin said. “I really wanted to get the starting job and I knew that was my only chance to get it. I didn’t want to miss out.”

Despite having some trouble getting into the swing of things on the court, it couldn’t have been easier for Martin to become friends with her teammates. She is particularly close to sophomore captains Lyndsay Miller and Katie Bruzdzinski, and the three of them have been nicknamed the “coneheads.” Martin’s teammates came up with the name after watching the movie Miracle, since that was the nickname given to three players on the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team who were always by each other’s side.

“We just realized that we are the coneheads because everything we do is together no matter what,” Martin said. “Katie is pass because she passes me the ball, I’m shoot because I shoot the ball and Lyndsay is score because she scores.”

The chemistry between Martin and her teammates greatly eased Martin’s transition into the starting spot. After helping the Wolverines win their last four games, it’s clear that Martin is comfortable in her new role as the team’s “quarterback.”

“She’s not afraid to compete at this level anymore, and she’s not overburdened by it,” Rosen said. “In fact, she is loving it. “She has that mentality to work hard, and I think she is just going to continue improving and learning. She is going to be great.”

 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.