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Northridge Knights - Remembering Martin

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I remembered the day Martin came to the gym where we practiced (Northridge Knights) in Chatsworth. It was the first time he ever played wheelchair sports. He started playing rugby with a chair borrowed from the team. It was very heavy and he had a hard time pushing his chair. He got tired very fast, was short of breath and felt bad. He could not even catch a ball. That first day he even told me he felt dizzy and wanted to vomit.

After his third practice he said he wanted to quit. I explained that this is how everyone feels at the beginning, but eventually you will get used to it and that this sport is addictive. Luckily, we convinced him to continue playing.

Soon he began to like this sport very much. So much that he was probably the only player who never missed practices. Gradually he gained experience, strength and speed, to become an important part of the team. He was a vital player to the team at practices and always positive with teamwork.

His desire to excel meant that almost every day he would go out to push in his wheelchair rugby. He became so strong that he was the one telling me not to fail in practice. He said "And what are you doing at home? It is better to exercise and have a good time."

Martin was very talkative and friendly. He helped people whenever he could. The referees and many players from other teams liked him a lot. I was fortunate enough to meet his family and they always treated me very well when I went to his house. His son Saul especially saw growth in his motivation because he often accompanied Martin to the practices.

In 2014 Martin turned 45 and was classed down to a 1.5. He could now play his first low-point tournament and we won second place (or maybe 3rd). Martin was so thrilled that in 2015 he planned to get a new chair to use at the low-point tournaments. He told me that this time we could probably win the first place. Unfortunately, that spring only about a month after sectionals he fell at home on accident and re-injured his spin. It hospitalized him, but he was determined to work through it and work his way back to health. While hospitalized he ran into additional physical issues that eventually were more than his body could handle. Sadly, he left us in May 2015.

Martin was a great rugby player but more importantly a great teammate and friend. I will always remember him and miss him. My greatest memories of Martin are his excitement and joy whenever we won a game.

Jesus Velasco (via google translate)

March 18, 2016 — 2:44am