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Kansas State Student-Athlete Spotlight: Shaelyn Martin
February 18, 2015
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By Josh Martin
Big 12 Campus Correspondent

Points, points, points. 

Too often this is what people use to determine whether a basketball player has had a good game or not. There are few players in the game today that are willing to do all of the little things that can easily go unseen like Kansas State’s freshman guard Shaelyn Martin.

Martin grew up loving K-State women’s basketball and would go to as many games in Manhattan as possible. She and her family would make the hour and a half trip from their family farm west of Salina to Bramlage Coliseum to cheer on the Cats whether the game was in the middle of the week or on the weekend.

In March of 2004, Martin was at the game that the K-State women clinched a share of the Big 12 Championship and saw the joy on the players’ faces as they celebrated the accomplishment. It was at that moment she decided she would do whatever it took to play there. She wanted to have the opportunity to contribute to her own team and compete for a Big 12 title. 

Fast forward 10 years and now she is a starting guard for the team she grew up watching in just her freshman year.

Growing up on a farm in central Kansas may be the key contributor to the success that Martin has had thus far in her freshman year at K-State. When many people think of farming, they know about the major seasons such as wheat or corn harvest or the ranching aspect of working and selling cattle. What many people do not know is that there are many smaller, under-the-radar jobs that must get done. This is where the concept of doing all of the little things originated and has been instilled into her game.

“There is no such thing as a day off,” said Martin. “It doesn’t matter if it is the weekend or Christmas, the animals still get hungry and there is always something that can be done. This Christmas break, for example, I helped my family cut wood for the wood stove and fed baby calves by the bottle. This may seem strange to some people, but for me it is just part of being at home. I think this is where my work ethic came from and why I take pride in doing the little things to make the team better.”

On any given night you can see Martin lead the Wildcats in just about any statistic. She averages 4.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists per game and leads all Big 12 freshmen with 2.2 steals per contest. Seeing Martin fill the stat sheet does not surprise her parents, Dean and Valarie Martin. This is exactly the way they always envisioned she would play.

“I do not expect her to go out and score double digits every night,” said mom, Valarie. “Everyone has off shooting nights and that is very hard to do in the Big 12. However, you can control your effort and you can always find a way to get rebounds, play good defense and force steals, and make good passes to your teammates. You cannot let poor shooting affect the rest of your game.”

Martin has completely bought into this philosophy and it has helped her in Big 12 play. 

“If I did not do all of the little things, I am not sure how much playing time I would get,” she said.  “The Big 12 is a tough league, and if you want to stay on the court against some of the better players in the country, you need to be able to do anything that can help your team. That is what I try to do.”

There are also many things that Martin does that do not show up in the stat sheet. Hustle plays, a good pass that leads to an assist, or even something as simple as being in the correct help-side defensive position. She prides herself on being versatile and is willing to play at any position that is needed of her. All of this contributes to the player that she has become. Her ability to do it all has not gone unnoticed by first-year K-State head coach Jeff Mittie.

“She has an amazing ability to play really all five spots,” said Mittie. “We obviously do not play her at the center but if she had to, she could do it.  She just understands the offense and she understands what is needed of her and it is really unique for a freshman to be able to do that.”

However, it is not just the offensive side of the ball, as Martin plays a key role for Mittie on defense, which ranks among the Big 12 leaders in scoring defense, steals and blocks.

“If we have an area defensively that we feel we need her to plug a hole in, we can put her in there,” said Mittie. “There have been games where we have felt she has been better up top because of her size and there have been games where we felt like teams were running certain things that we would rather have her on the wing. She gets a lot of deflections, I think she has improved that part of her game and I think she is becoming a better rebounder. She is a much better rebounder than she was two months ago.”

Even though Martin is already starting in her freshman year, she continues to work hard to improve her game. There is always room for more improvement and the best way to make her team better is to give it her all every day.

Martin grew up bleeding purple and working daily to achieve her goal of playing for the Wildcats. She knows she is living the dream of almost every little girl in Kansas who picks up a basketball: playing for the Wildcats in Bramlage Coliseum. 

Martin hopes that she can be an example to all those players that hard work and dedication can get you where you want to be. In a game where points are too often the center of attention, she is setting the example that there are other ways you can have an impact on the game.

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