SAN ANTONIO – If you watched any game that the Madison girls soccer team played this season, you likely saw senior Jillian Martinez score a goal...
The Mavericks standout torched the soccer fields in San Antonio, tallying 39 goals over 21 games as she powered Madison to an impressive 20-1-0 overall record. Unfortunately, any hopes of a deep playoff run were dashed by the coronavirus pandemic, which wiped out the final two games of the regular season and canceled the playoffs entirely. Instead of a proper sendoff to a stellar high school career, Martinez was forced to transition right into training for college.
“The last couple of months have definitely been a challenge," Martinez said. "Going from high school to spring break and then not being able to go back to school to finish the season was tough. UCLA sent us a workout schedule that they wanted us to focus on during this time. It’s kind of crazy. Once they canceled the high school season, I immediately switched to college and getting ready for UCLA.”
Luckily, Martinez has been able to establish an effective daily routine despite restrictions placed on facilities and personnel. It’s markedly different -- and more intense -- than her high school training.
“It’s just by myself," Martinez explained. "I’m not able to train with my friends, and when it’s with a coach, I have to be by myself as well. I also have to modify my trainings now. I’m lifting weights more, I’m swimming, getting cardio work in. Every day, I usually wake up, go workout, do school work and workout again. It’s basically an everyday thing now that school is over.”
Motivation is easy to come by. The Madison senior is preparing to continue her soccer career as a freshman at UCLA next season. She might not be traveling to campus until Aug. 1, but Martinez has always had her sights set on playing in Los Angeles, California.
“In the beginning of the recruiting process, I wrote down my top 20 schools, and UCLA was always No. 1," she said. “The facilities at the school and the coaching staff are great, but the main thing was the team. The girls made me feel included, they’re super competitive, and I know they’ll challenge me every day during training sessions.”
The jump in difficulty from the high school to the collegiate level is substantial, so the foundation she is building this summer will go a long way towards starting her Bruins career on the right foot.
“We’re now playing at one of the highest levels," Martinez explained. "It’s Division I. Everyone wants to win a National Championship. That’s their main goal, so the competitiveness is definitely going to be there. The girls are three years older than me, and some of them are women now and are getting ready to go professional.”
The goal is to help the UCLA Women’s soccer program claim their second national championship. The Bruins last won a title in 2013. There is still no guarantee that there will even be a season next year. Martinez remains hopeful, but if there isn’t one, she’ll have more time to focus on her studies in Physiological Science and Neuroscience. After all, the Madison grad has big plans for soccer and academics in the future.
“After college, I would like to play professionally for just two or three years in the National Women’s Soccer League, and then after that I’d love to become a pediatrician and come back home to San Antonio.”