There are approximately 100 African American and other student-athletes of color this school year at the University of Minnesota. In an occasional series throughout the 2016-17 school and sports year, the MSR will highlight many of these players. This week: Gopher freshman outside hitter Jasmyn Martin
Jasmyn Martin, now in her first year as outside hitter on the Minnesota volleyball team, is seeing significant action this fall. She is among six freshmen on this year’s squad.
The 6’-3” Brooklyn Park native also is the “oldest” frosh, so to speak — Martin joined the program after graduating last January from Hopkins High School. Therefore she got a head start on her fellow first-year mates in terms of campus acclimation both academically and athletically.
“I got a full semester under my belt,” a smiling Martin told the MSR after a recent match. “I’m an old freshman vet.”
Sports is big in the Martin family — her mother Tracey played basketball at Moorhead (MN) State, and her dad Tracy played football at North Dakota and in the pros. Her older sister Jade just graduated from Georgetown and played basketball there as well.
Asked if she experienced any family pressure, the young woman responded, “I’ve been playing sports for as long as I can remember. Volleyball wasn’t my main sport; basketball was. I [also] tried soccer, ballet, everything…”
Martin eventually settled on spiking. She was a starter at Hopkins as an eighth-grader as well. “I like the culture. It’s energetic and it’s fun. It’s really a team sport,” Martin noted. She also played club ball alongside several players who also moved on to Division I schools.
“I was always around super-good players. That helped me a lot” in her development as a volleyball player, she said.
Nearly a half-hour from home, Martin explained her college choice: “Minnesota is a different program than other programs. They [the coaches] are genuine in what they say and what they do. I knew by coming here I would grow as a person and a volleyball player.”
Arena gets a non-corporate name
Minnesota’s on-campus sports pavilion is now the Joel Maturi University Sports Pavilion, or Maturi Pavilion for short. The volleyball, gymnastics and wrestling home since the 1990s is named for the school’s first athletic director after the men’s and women’s athletics department merged in 2002. Maturi served in that position until he retired 10 years later.
“It was a transformational time at Minnesota,” Maturi said of his tenure when he spoke to us prior to the September 2 renaming ceremony. “We stabilized the finances,” he pointed out. He also spearheaded the drive for a new on-campus football stadium. “I think the university is recognizing that,” he said humbly.
Naming the Pavilion after him “is over the top,” in Maturi’s view.
We still want the U of M to rename the pavilion media room after the late MSR senior columnist Kwame McDonald. He was among the few local media members who covered women’s sports there.
Gene Washington, one of Michigan State’s all-time 50 best football players and among the first Black players from the segregated South to play there, watched his alma mater last Saturday defeat the host Gophers a week after the Spartans knocked off Michigan in the longtime rivalry game.
“That’s a big game,” Washington told the MSR at halftime on the State-Wolverines in-state contest. He had been worried of a possible letdown coming into the Minnesota contest.
Washington, a 1967 Minnesota Vikings first-round pick and a two-time Pro Bowler in seven NFL seasons, also pointed out that the Spartans’ two consecutive wins in as many weeks can help them remain unbeaten. They are now 3-0 in conference play as they host Indiana on Saturday.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.