QUANTICO , VA, UNITED STATES
QUANTICO, Va. - Giovanni Martinez has a life-long passion for soccer which originated at the age of five when his uncle gave him his first set of cleats.
Martinez began playing soccer competitively in elementary school and continued through middle school, high school and college. After two decades in the sport, his passion still thrives as Captain Martinez plays for the All-Marine Soccer team.
“I’ve got three favorite success stories in my soccer career,” said the 28 year-old native of Long Island, NY. “Definitely making the New York Olympic Development Program soccer team, playing division one soccer in college and most recently -- making the All-Marine team.”
Martinez graduated from the University of Buffalo with a bachelor’s degree in history. While at Buffalo, he played right full back on the Bulls’ soccer team and honed his leadership abilities, learning to build a cohesive unit within the team.
“It’s really important to learn to be there for your teammates, both on and off the field,” he said.
Perhaps Martinez’ selfless mentality and natural leadership came from his family history. His cousin Ruben Renderos, who played professional soccer in South America, was his biggest inspiration in soccer, teaching him and pushing him to success.
“But my family as a whole wasn’t only there for me when it came to soccer,” he said. “They continually were there encouraging me in every aspect of my life. They’ve been a driving force in all of my accomplishments.”
During his junior year of college, Martinez decided to pursue a career as a Marine officer.
“9/11 had happened a few years before,” Martinez explained. “The images of that day stuck in my memory, and growing up in Long Island, it hit pretty close to home. I come from a family of immigrants. I’m the first one in my family to be born in the U.S., so as I considered it, I decided I wanted to lead our nation’s greatest defenders and give back to the country that has provided such amazing opportunities for my family.”
In 2009, he served in Iraq with the 8th Communications Battalion and is now the network operations officer for the Marine Corps Recruiting Command. In his current position, Martinez is responsible for managing the communications network used by all Marine recruiters and supporting staff throughout the United States.
Martinez made his debut with the All-Marine soccer team when they competed against the British Royal Marines at the 2012 Virginia Gauntlet Soccer Challenge in Stafford, Va., April 25. Although Martinez said the Royal Marines out-scored the U.S., five goals to one, he views the experience in a positive light.
“It’s been an honor to be a part of this group and to represent our Corps,” Martinez said. “This was my first time as part of the All-Marine team and it was great to have the opportunity to compete and to build friendships and strong bonds with the British Royal Marines. That’s one of the things I love about the game. It’s an international sport that breaks through all sorts of cultural barriers and brings people together.”
According to Martinez, the life lessons learned on the field carry over easily into his daily Marine Corps life.
“The more you play with a certain group of guys, the closer you get,” he stated. “You build a cohesive unit where you play for each other and are united in your goal of winning the game. The same is applicable in my Marine life. We Marines understand that there must be a unity of effort in order to successfully accomplish each mission.”
After six years in the Corps, Martinez looks to the future and says he plans to stay in until he retires. He and his wife Rachel have been married a year and a half, and are considering growing their family in the near future.
Martinez keeps his soccer skills sharp by playing for La Barra Brava Football Club, which is part of a Washington, D.C. based competitive soccer league. However, the challenge of balancing his time is always present because his priority rests in leading Marines.
Although a high operational tempo in the Corps keeps him from playing as much soccer as he might enjoy, it remains one of his passions.
"Whenever I can, I still try to fit the game in," he said, "I can't imagine my life without this game, and I'll continue playing as long as I can stand and kick a ball."
||QUANTICO , VA, US
This work, Recruiting Command Marine competes with All-Marine Soccer Team, by Sgt Nathanael Carberry, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.