By Jenelyn Russo
Photo Credit: Robert Zaleski
When he entered Servite High School as a freshman, Christian Martinez took on the challenge of learning to play water polo. Already a multi-sport athlete, and tackling a difficult sport, Martinez was unsure if he had made the right choice. But now entering his senior year, the varsity player says he wouldn't change a thing.
"I remember the first week how challenging it was and not knowing whether I'd be able to do this for the next four years," says Martinez. "As the weeks went on, I realized I needed to stay with it because when I start something, I need to finish it. So later on in life, if I run into an obstacle, I'm able to go through that obstacle, even if there [are] problems."
Martinez is an attacker and goal scorer for the Friars. He plays water polo mostly for the competitive nature of the sport and because it demands equal parts physical and mental strength. Servite's head water polo and swim coach, Andy Coffman, is looking to Martinez for both skill and leadership during his senior season.
"Christian brings about as much talent as you could want from an athlete," says Coffman. "His size, speed and ability to move in the water are his best attributes in water polo. I think Christian can lead this team to the goals we have set for ourselves this year."
As a three-sport athlete at Servite, Martinez exits the pool at the end of fall and heads to the basketball court, where he was named 1st Team All-Trinity League last season. Each spring, the 17-year-old makes his way back to the pool to swim the 50 and 100 meter freestyle races, as well as the 200 and 400 meter freestyle relays. No matter which sport season he is in, Martinez values being a part of the strong tradition of Servite athletics.
"Servite is known...for having that fighting spirit within them," says Martinez. "When things are not going your way, you just keep battling."
Martinez makes community service a priority as well by mentoring local youth basketball players with special needs through the Yorba Linda Basketball Challenger Division. The Hacienda Heights resident is also working to become an Eagle Scout. His goals athletically are to continue with sports in college, and ultimately, he would like to represent the United States as an Olympic swimmer.
Martinez credits much of who he is today to both of his grandmothers, who have set examples for him in the areas of life skills, leadership and what it means to never give up. And attending school in an environment where he can share and strengthen his faith has made an impact on the athlete.
"Faith is everything at Servite," says Martinez. "Just that minute to quiet down and thank God for what we really have is what Servite's all about."