Neutral Zone had a chance to chat with recent 2018 Lindenwood University commit, Kayla Martinez. At 4-years old, Martinez began her skating career and recognition of her burgeoning talent soon followed. Coaches identified her early on as a stand-out and remarked to her parents that with continued hard work “Kayla is going somewhere with this.” We asked Martinez to reflect upon the experiences that have brought her to college hockey’s doorstep.
NZ: Explain your experience at Honeybaked and how the program is preparing you for the next level?
KM: At age 12, I was playing pretty much year-round with my regular-season for Honeybaked and summer camps. I have been so fortunate to be a part of the Honeybaked organization. It’s like one big family that gets passed down from year to year.
From a player-development standpoint, Danny Veri was the best coach I ever had. He realized my potential and helped foster it in the early stages of my development. Rob Robinson was a huge help in guiding me through the college recruitment process. At the time, I really did not understand the college process but Robinson gave me excellent tips to help with every stage of the process. Looking ahead to next season, I am really excited to have the opportunity to play for Ryan Pardoski.
NZ: When did colleges begin expressing their interest?
KM: The college process began when I was in the 8th grade. College coaches were only able to contact my coaches at the time and encourage me to then call them. The list of schools that reached out and expressed interest included Lindenwood, Providence, Penn State, University of Vermont, Sacred Heart, and Elmira. I felt very fortunate to have options and opportunities to consider programs at both the Division 1 and 3 level.
NZ: For many, playing collegiate level hockey at any level is a dream. How did it feel when you first realized that you were a Division 1 player?
KM: I had a feeling of great accomplishment when I realized I was a Division 1 player. My family put so much time and money into my development that it seemed like it was a way to thank them and show them it was worth it. It felt like all of my hard work and commitment had paid off.
NZ:With so many options, how did you narrow down your choices? What stood out about Lindenwood that ultimately made your decision to commit?
KM: I visited nearly every school that invited me to come to campus. We made a little family vacation out to the trip east to see schools. From the moment my family set foot on the Lindenwood campus, we knew it was going to be the one. I immediately got a felling of being at-home from the coaches, campus, and surrounding community. After a lot of discussion and weighing the option of committing versus possibly losing an offer, I decided to commit to Lindenwood during 10th grade for the fall of 2018. It felt like the right fit and the right time to make that commitment.
NZ: What do you think are your strengths are as a player? With two years left at the Honeybaked program, what do you hope to improve on before heading to Lindenwood?
KM: I am a stay-at-home defenseman. I place a lot of value on defensive skill and that includes great decision-making, which has been an area of focused development over the last few years. Before heading to Lindenwood in 2 years, I am excited to improve my foot speed and work on quickening my shot.
NZ: You are living the dream of a lot of young players right now. What advice would you have for the next girl who is going to Honeybaked to start her college process?
KM: I want up-and-coming college hockey prospects to be goal-oriented and continue to work hard on their overall development. Once you implant the dream in your head, you’ll only push for it more. My goal was to make it to Division 1 hockey, and knowing that’s where I wanted to get to pushed me to continue to work hard along the way.