By Halle Frisco
Hailing from Monroe Township, N.J., Grace Martini brings her athletic prowess and big heart to East Stroudsburg University. She is a sophomore midfielder on the ESU Women’s Field Hockey team.
In high school, Martini was a four-year letter-winner and a First Team All-State selection during her senior year. She was also the Player of the Year for Greater Middlesex County in 2015.
At ESU, Martini is earning a dual certification in both Special and Secondary Education with a concentration in English.
She also has a minor in Studio Art.
Martini has made the Dean’s List, is a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) scholar-athlete and was named to the NCAA Division II All-Academic team last year.
Upon graduation, she would like to earn a job as a high school life skills teacher or a job coach for disabled persons.
“I chose my major because I’ve been around people with disabilities my whole life. My aunt is in a group home with severe disabilities, and my mom works as an elementary special education teacher. It’s just become a passion of mine and that I’m making a difference,” Martini said.
In addition to dominating the field hockey field during her senior year of high school, Martini found the time to tutor a 22-year-old man with disabilities in her home area.
“I would pick him up from his house because he couldn’t drive, and we would go to the mall. I would make sure he counts his change at the food court, hold the door for people, and I took him to see Star Wars at the movies. He loved Star Wars,” she said.
Here at ESU, she is the Program Coordinator for the Swim and Gym program, which is a 10-week program provided by the university for disabled members in the surrounding community to come in and work with volunteers on motor skills and get some exercise.
“Most of the members come from the surrounding area, and some of the disabilities they have are autism spectrum disorder or have Down syndrome. We work on skills like shooting a basketball or kicking a soccer ball,” she said.
The ages range from as young eleven years old to adults in their forties.
Looking ahead to her junior year, Martini is excited to get back for her third pre-season with the ESU Women’s Field Hockey team and continuing her studies.
“The highlight [of the 2017 season] was going to Kentucky. That was a huge accomplishment. There are only four teams who get to go and fly. Our banquet at Churchill Downs was amazing. What an experience just to be there,” said Martini.
Martini is an up-and-coming player to watch. She played in eleven games during her freshman season and fifteen games during the 2017 season.
She had two goals and one assist between the two seasons.
Sandy Miller is the Head Coach of ESU Field Hockey.
Miller stated, “Grace is one of the most intense and driven athletes that I have ever had.”
“It doesn’t matter what the drill is,” said Miller. “Grace is giving you all she has.”
“Just a hard worker. Always wants to learn. Always asks questions. Always answering questions,” said Miller.
“Most of our players are like that,” said Miller. “But Grace just goes above and beyond.”
“She is a super-nice lady–a real pleasure to have as a team and a coach. She really represents us well,” stated Miller.
The team is currently going through spring training in preparation for the 2018 season.
“Yes, we lost them [the seniors],” said Martini, “but the team has been working with the new dynamic, and we meet as a team once a week outside of practice to discuss respect, trust, and try to bond the team closer. I have a really good feeling about the fall from what I’ve seen so far this spring.”
Martini hopes that next fall they can exceed the accomplishments of the 2017 team by winning the PSAC championship.
She would also like the team to return to the NCAA Tournament and win the national championship like the 2015 ESU team.
“I would like to try to be an All-American or All-Conference. I just plan to keep my grades up, work hard and see how the season goes,” said Martini.
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