Soccer and Community Support Heal the Pain of Losing a Mother
Lexi Martinez started playing soccer in Petaluma at age five. By age nine, she joined her first competitive soccer league, the Sonoma County Alliance (SCA) (now North Coast FC). There she learned team-building skills and how the game was played. "I was a midfielder and then a forward. Soon I switched to a defensive position, which I fell in love with," Martinez said. In ninth grade she joined the Casa Grande High School Gauchos soccer team, and played on the varsity team all four years. "It was there I really learned the importance of teamwork."
During her sophomore year Martinez had to face one of the most difficult situations: her mother was diagnosed with stage four cancer. "I had just come home from the movies and my mom and my dad were sitting on the couch crying. She told me she had cancer and the doctors didn't know how much longer she had to live. It was the worst feeling I ever had in my life." For the next few months her mother underwent chemotherapy. This had a major impact on the family as her mother's health declined. People from their community came together and helped out the Martinez family in every way possible.
Martinez and her family appreciated every bit of help going through those hard times. After several months of chemotherapy, on Christmas day, Martinez and her sisters woke up early to open presents and noticed their mother wasn't feeling well. It was obvious that the cancer had taken a turn for the worse.
The next morning, Martinez's father said her mother wasn't feeling well and he was taking her to the hospital. An hour later her dad called, saying she and her older sister needed to come to the hospital. The doctor said her mother didn't have much time left. "Something inside me changed that day. I knew I really had to step it up and take responsibility for my younger sisters and myself. I had to be stronger than I normally was." Martinez's mother passed a few hours later.
Soccer became her remedy for healing her pain. It helped to take her mind off the sadness and grieve in a safe, familiar place. "Playing soccer during that time allowed me to go onto the field and let everything go. I have played every game in honor of her," Martinez said.
"I wear a blue 'One Tough Chick' bracelet on my right ankle every time I step onto the field. I never go without wearing the bracelet on my wrist or ankle during any of my games."
After graduating high school, Martinez decided to attend SRJC. She wanted to stay close to her younger sisters and help out as much as possible. "Going to the JC was the best decision I've made after I graduated. I can still live at home, and do what I love while I figure out what I want my career to be."
While playing for the Bear Cubs, Martinez has grown close to her coach and teammates. They've fought together many battles on the soccer field and are now in first place in their division. "This is the closest team I've ever been with. I love that I have 21 other people I can talk to and have a shoulder to cry on. It makes being here a great experience."
Martinez is excited about her future. She's working hard and wants to get an athletic scholarship to an NCAA division 2 school or to a NAIA school. She is going to change her Humanities major to psychology. "I'm really intrigued with how the mind works and how people think." She's undecided what career path she's going to take but feels she has enough time to figure it out. "I want to finish college here at SRJC then transfer to a four-year and finish out playing soccer. I feel I need this time to grow and I love being here on this campus. "
- Story written by: Tom Rivas