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Dreams are coming true for pitcher Carlos Martínez

Salvadoran pitcher Carlos Martínez fulfilled his dream of making the senior national team and, at the same time, becoming a coach, but now he is hungry for more: to climb the podium at the Central American and Caribbean Games San Salvador 2023 and to climb steps in his professional career.

The love and passion for softball began to grow in Carlos at an early age, when he took up the sport out of curiosity after seeing several of his friends playing it. It was like love at first sight. When he was just six years old, he put on a mitt and began to learn more about softball, a discipline in which he has reaped triumphs and sorrows, but which keeps him hooked to this day, at the age of 24.

Martínez admitted that, after practicing the sport for several years, he began to dream of one day making the national team and, later, of becoming a coach. He has more than fulfilled both roles. At the age of 15 he was called up for the first time to a youth national team and only two years later he received his first call-up to the senior national team.

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“I want to belong to the national team and be a coach as long as possible because it has been my dream since I was a kid,” the pitcher stressed.

Martínez’s history with softball began at the age of six, at the Colonia Zacamil mini stadium, where he has shared with his classmates and friends his enthusiasm for learning more and more about this discipline. 

The pitcher says that many of those children, with whom he started, are now also part of the national team. “We are, as they say, a group of the same age, we have been growing up together, we have all known each other since we were little, and we get along very well,” said Martinez, who assured that this has been vital for the atmosphere in the group to be the best.

At the age of 11, Juan’s dream stopped for a while because his father (Juan Carlos Martínez) had to leave for the United States and his mother, who was the one who supported him to travel to training sessions and games, had to work full time, so he had no possibility of traveling to the sporting venues.

“There was no one to take me to practice; I was just a kid, and I cried because I had no one to help me; I felt bad because at that age I wasn’t independent; I couldn’t catch a bus by myself. But then my mom started taking me again, and eventually she even paid for a shuttle bus to take me,” Martínez recalled.

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Despite the vicissitudes in the family environment, the desire to excel grew, and Martinez intensified his practices and the time he dedicated to his sport. This allowed him to perform well and make the leap from the children’s leagues to the youth leagues.

The first call to the youth national team came in 2013, when he was 15 years old, to form the team that would participate in the IX Central American Youth Championship in Managua, Nicaragua. There, Martinez stood out and became a champion with the national team.

Just one year later, in 2014, the pitcher was surprised to receive a call-up to the senior national team for the Central American Softball Championship in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. “I was happy and nervous at the same time because I was a kid, and there I was on the senior national team,” he recalled.

Although softball was always at the top of his list, Martínez said that during his college years he practiced other sports such as swimming and volleyball, in which he performed very well, but not in the excellent way he was looking for, so he returned to devote himself completely to softball.

“I got involved in other disciplines to see if I could be at a good level, but it wasn’t the same as softball. I liked it more, and I was having better results at all levels,” he said.

Moving abroad

In 2016, Martínez had an outstanding performance in the Central American Senior Championship, held in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, which earned him offers from regional clubs and helped him make the leap to international softball at just 18 years of age.

“After that championship, Wil Andino, owner of the Azulejos team (Honduras) called me, I had just turned 18, and he told me: ‘I want to hire you to come and play for my team’. It was something incredible for me, I was very excited and scared at the same time,” said Carlos.

With that mix of emotions, the pitcher went to his mother to tell her about the offer and everything it entailed. “I told my mom that I was happy for the offer and the opportunity, but also that I was scared because it was the first time I would be out on my own and I didn’t know how it would go. But my mom always supported me, and told me not to worry, that everything was going to be fine for me and to be brave,” Martinez recounted.

In addition to the offer from the Azulejos (with whom he played for two years), the Salvadoran pitcher also received offers from two other clubs, one from Guatemala and the other from Nicaragua. Currently, Martínez plays during the week for the Chapín Piratas and the Nicaraguan club Empremar, while on weekends he travels to Honduras to join the ranks of Corsarios.

“I have been fortunate that the federation allows me to travel during the week to play with the foreign teams. Sometimes they are same-day trips, it is exhausting, but I like to go and play there”, commented the Salvadoran pitcher.

The experience as a pitcher in Central American teams has allowed him to strengthen his abilities as a player, because “you gain more knowledge, you lose your nervousness, and you learn to concentrate more on the game,” said the player.

After fulfilling his dream of being in the senior national team and playing with foreign clubs, Martínez still had a dream: to become a coach. This desire grew even more when the player became one of the most renowned pitchers at the national level and was a source of admiration for children and youngsters who were just starting out in the sport.

It was at the beginning of 2020 when Julio César Grijalva, president of the Salvadoran Softball Federation, gave him the opportunity to pass on his knowledge of the sport and become the pitching coach of the San Salvador Softball School in the youth category. 

“I was very happy and flattered by the news, the colonel (Julio Grijalva) told me that I was a very enthusiastic, cheerful boy, and knew a lot about pitching. I had already been representing El Salvador for many years, so I had the knowledge and pedagogy to fulfill the position”, said Martínez.

During that same year, despite the pandemic, the athlete confirmed that he participated in a Sports Planning course given by the Salvadoran Softball Federation, which allowed him to specialize in coaching. 

Currently, Martinez is in charge of 20 youth pitchers, 10 girls and 10 boys. “I am proud because I see the entire process from when I started until now. Today, I can share my knowledge with other players, and I like to tell them my story, my beginnings, how I worked to get here in order to motivate them, so they can have an example and know what the process is to make it to the senior team,” said the pitcher.

On a personal level, one of the pitcher’s goals is to finish his professional career, since Martínez took a break from his studies after completing three cycles of the bachelor’s degree in physical education at the Universidad Pedagógica de El Salvador.

“I want to get my degree, to have more sports knowledge and to stay in the federation. Later on, I want to apply for a position as technical manager of the federation,” the pitcher commented. 

Aiming for San Salvador 2023

Looking ahead to the XXIV Central American and Caribbean Games San Salvador 2023, Martínez is clear about his goal: to win a medal for El Salvador. To that end, the pitcher continues training with the senior softball team three times a week to continue his preparation.

Martínez assured that the senior national team and the federation are arranging a training camp in Cartagena, Colombia, which will serve as practice for the major regional competition to be held between June and July of this year. 

The home advantage during San Salvador 2023 has Martinez with emotions running high, because he considers that it can play for or against him, however, he hopes that the goals set will be fulfilled. “I feel both nervous and anxious at the same time because we are going to be local, sometimes there is pressure from being locals and from the crowd, but we are confident in God that things will work out well for us, and we will win a medal for our country”, emphasized the player.  

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