Santa Maria Sun / Athlete of the Week
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 38
Athlete of the Week: Keanu Martinez
BY FRANK GONZALES
For the Righetti High School Warriors men’s water polo team, 2012 will be remembered as a high point in the team’s history. That’s in no small part thanks to their leading scorer, Keanu Martinez. In his fourth and final season with the team, Martinez helped to lead the Warriors to the CIF Division Final against Los Osos’ Grizzlies. While they came up short in that match, Martinez has no regrets: “It was a tough game, but we did everything right. We trained as hard as we could. I think that’s the theme of our team—just hard work and dedication,” he said.
With the stats Martinez built over the season, he rightly has no use for regret. The utility player was first for his team in goals with 96, accounting for about a fifth of his team’s total. He was also tied for second in steals with 62. But these numbers don’t fully represent Martinez’s performance. He also proved his ability by succeeding in pivotal, high-pressure situations. His penalty shot goal during sudden-death overtime against Cerritos in the CIF Division Semi-Final match is a case in point. That 19-18 victory was one of many that gave the Warriors their impressive 26-7 record for the season.
To achieve these results, Martinez stressed the role of hard work in practices.
Strategy also had a central role in their training.
“We try to work on a lot of plays that help [our] smartness,” he added.
Martinez and many of his teammates also gained the training and experience that comes from swimming for the Warriors in water polo’s off-season. Even before Martinez and many of his teammates began playing for Righetti, they were already preparing.
“Almost half the starting lineup were on swim club before high school, so we have a lot of swimming experience,” he said.
Martinez and his teammates’ success can only be understood by looking at the thousands of hours they’ve spent in the pool.
Nevertheless, their training would have meant little if the team lacked cohesion. Martinez considers his teammates to be as close as family. He smiles when he talks about his friends on the team and says, “My best friends are my teammates. I don’t really hang out with anybody outside of school other than them. We’re just like a family.”
Since this is his last year playing water polo for the Warriors, he also had a message for next year’s team: “All I want them to do is work as hard as we did this year. Keep it up. I think they’re going to have a great season if they do that.”
If the team remains as close as it was this year and trains just as hard, the path to next year’s CIF Finals is clear.
As for Martinez, he’s happy about his time with the Warriors.
“We did everything right,” he said. “We worked our hardest, we gave it our all, we got really far, so I’m really proud of that. I think that the way it came out was meant to be. It showed us we can still be happy. We have what we need. It was a privilege. The prize of the season was being with our other players, the privilege to play with each other as a family.”
Martinez hopes to attend either Chico State or Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. Along with his desire to study mechanical engineering, he said, “If there is an opportunity, I’ll definitely play water polo in college. I love it. It’s my favorite sport for sure.”
With a record like his, either college would be lucky to have Martinez on its team.