Martin finds home with GVSU soccer

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Lexi Pszanka of Minnesota State battles with Jayma Martin of Grand Valley. Grand Valleys womens soccer team defeats #4 ranked Minnesota State by a score of 2-1 Sept. 13.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Lexi Pszanka of Minnesota State battles with Jayma Martin of Grand Valley. Grand Valley’s women’s soccer team defeats #4 ranked Minnesota State by a score of 2-1 Sept. 13.

Josh Peick

It is every athlete’s dream to win a national championship. It is a dream that four of the five seniors on the Grand Valley State women’s soccer team have fulfilled in the first three years of their collegiate careers.

But for the fifth senior, the path to a national championship was not as clear.

After transferring to different schools twice and playing for three different collegiate programs, Jayma Martin finally obtained her first taste of a national championship with GVSU in 2015.

Martin’s journey to a Division II national championship started in Pueblo, Colorado, where she grew up. In high school, Martin amassed 99 goals in four varsity seasons, making her a two-time Denver Post Class 4A All-State First Team selection. Her success in high school made her a highly sought after recruit for Division II schools, including GVSU.

“I had options in different areas, but I saw California as an opportunity,” Martin said.

Martin decided to continue her soccer career at Cal State Dominguez Hills. In her freshman year, the team finished 6-9-3, with Martin only starting in nine of those games. After the season, the head coach of Dominguez Hills left the team, leaving Martin with a decision on whether to return for her sophomore year.

“It made it easier for me to leave,” Martin said. “I was unsure where the program was going to go.”

Martin waited the entire spring semester to hear who would be the next head coach. After not hearing who the next coach would be, she made the decision to transfer late in the year.

“It didn’t quite live up to expectations,” Martin said. “I wanted to be in a really competitive program and go far. It just wasn’t quite that.”

Martin was forced to transfer to a junior college to play for a year because of NCAA restrictions on transferring to a different Division II school. Athletes are required to sit out one year before playing for a different school within Division II—not the most desirable option in Martin’s eyes.

Martin stayed in California played her sophomore season at Santa Monica College. She thrived in the Corsairs’ offense, scoring 16 goals and dishing out nine assists. She was named to the All-Western State Conference First Team and led her team to an 18-2-3 record.

By the end of her sophomore year, it was again time for Martin to decide where she wanted to transfer for her junior year. After hearing about GVSU’s two straight national championships, the decision was an easy one.

“The first place I wanted to go was Grand Valley,” Martin said. “It was the top of my list.”

She contacted GVSU head coach Jeff Hosler and after a recommendation from her coach at Santa Monica, Martin was in Grand Rapids within a week, playing in front of the GVSU coaches at a soccer camp. Martin’s athletic ability turned some heads, and soon enough she was wearing a Lakers’ uniform.

“Beyond just the skills on the ball, she is an electric athlete,” Hosler said. “She is someone that plays taller than she looks because of her quickness, pace and leaping ability.”

In her first year as a Laker, Martin quickly showed why she earned a spot on the team. She finished the season tied for third on the team in points with 29, including 10 goals and nine assists.

“Whether it was starting or coming off the bench, she brought a spark to the field and energy to our team,” said GVSU forward Gabriella Mencotti.

Martin scored some important goals for the Lakers in the playoffs. She netted the equalizer in the quarterfinals against Central Missouri and the game winning goal against Western Washington in the semifinals. By the end of the season, Martin finally lived out her dream: winning a national championship.

“My whole journey, that’s what I wanted. That was the ultimate goal.” Martin said.

Now starting her senior season, for the first time in Martin’s collegiate soccer career, she is returning for a second season at the same school. She is returning to a place she can finally call home.

“I actually feel like I know where I am, and I know where I am going,” Martin said.