Kankakee Valley’s Gabby Martin has become a vocal leader
By Ryan Haskell Post-Tribune correspondent August 26, 2012 11:10PM
Kankakee Valley's Gabrielle Martin waits for the serve against Lowell Thursday evening at Lowell High School. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 28, 2012 6:15AM
Gabby Martin certainly doesn’t scare easy.
But she will admit to being timid and afraid to voice her opinion on the court over the past two seasons because she was an underclassman.
That’s not the case anymore, though.
Martin, who was the Kankakee Valley MVP last season, is one of the team’s captains and she’s not afraid to help out a teammate or step on anybody’s toes.
“I think it helps more that I’m an upperclassmen because last year I didn’t want to talk over the seniors,” said Martin, who recorded 11 kills in the team’s Northwest Crossroads Conference opening win over Lowell on Thursday. “It’s kind of out of my nature to be talkative in the first place so I’m trying to come out of my shell a little bit.”
Kougars coach Rick Ashmore has noticed the difference in her and he’s very impressed. He said her physical abilities have always been on the higher end of the scale but her leadership is going to be pertinent if the team hopes to win the conference crown and win the school’s first sectional since 2004.
“The freshmen and sophomores look up to her. I think she’s one of the best in the area,” Ashmore said. “Her serve receive is solid and we look for her to step up vocally and she’s encouraging the younger players.
“She has excellent ball control and she sees the court, but I was more impressed with her talking with the younger kids and building them up and giving them pats on the back.”
Martin started playing travel volleyball when she was 10 years old, and she joined Dunes Club volleyball program when she was 14. She said all that experience helped her become the player she is today.
“It helps you a lot because it really shows what the competition is like out there,” Martin said. “I watched people that were better than me and learned from it.”
Now, players are watching her and trying to emulate her abilities.
Martin recorded more than 300 kills her sophomore season and should improve on that total in 2012.
Her confidence is beaming this year so that should be a no-brainer.
“I feel I’m a lot more involved in the game,” Martin said. “During my freshman year, I was scared to step up and say anything because I didn’t want them to think I was taking their place, but now I’m confident in what I’m doing and I know I can help out the younger players. I’m not perfect or anything, but I know what to say to (the younger players) and help them out.”
Of course, that team continuity should help the Kougars reach their goals of winning conference and sectionals.
“We definitely want to win sectionals to start,” she said. “And I think we can make it through our regionals and to semi-state. We already played one of our sectional opponents and one of our rivals Knox and we beat them this year and I think that will give us confidence throughout the rest of the season.”
And make KV a scary team to face all season-long.