The last time we saw Eric Martin, he was celebrating with his teammates, hoisting the Champion’s Cup amongst the falling confetti and 8,600 screaming fans at the Comcast Arena.
It was a particularly special evening for Martin, who endured five seasons with the Stealth in San Jose, Calif., falling short of the coveted National Lacrosse League title numerous times before the team played it’s first season in Everett last year.
“It was such a crazy game; such a rollercoaster ride,” says Martin of the Champion’s Cup Final. His goal in the waning seconds of the third quarter sparked the Stealth’s comeback win. “With the year we had, starting with relocating and developing a new fan base, and doing it with this group of guys: it really was a storybook ending.”
Since then, things have yet to slow down for the man his teammates call “Meat”. His summer was chock full of lax, advancing to the Major League Lacrosse playoffs with the Denver Outlaws and winning a gold medal with Team USA at the World Championships in Manchester, England.
It was a disappointing finish for Martin and his Outlaws squad, losing in the opening round of the playoffs to the Long Island Lizards. But his Team USA experience was a bit more successful, as the Americans returned to the top of the lacrosse world with a 12-10 victory over Canada in the championship game. It was the completion of a life-long dream for Martin, and something he will always remember.
“Playing for the U.S. is something that I had always hoped to do,” he says. “I was always planning for it and training for it. It was exciting to finally get the chance.”
Martin may also have an opportunity to represent the U.S. at the World Indoor Championships in Prague, Czech Republic in 2011. He and a number of his Stealth teammates are in the midst of Team USA tryouts, which will announce its roster later this fall.
In both the MLL and at the World Championships, Martin found himself playing against his Stealth teammates with which he won an NLL Championship just months prior. It’s a situation unique to lacrosse, as players are with their NLL teams in the winter and disperse to other leagues to get their summer fix of lacrosse. But for a player like Martin, he will be in your face whether you’re friend or foe.
“You aren’t going to give the other guy an inch, friends or not,” says Martin of facing his Stealth teammates in the summer. “If I see Paul Rabil take a big hit and get up slow, I might check to see if he’s OK, because we’re friends. Maybe if we weren’t friends it would get a little dirtier,” he adds with a laugh.
Martin has a reputation around the lacrosse world as a smash-mouth defender; he’s not afraid to engage in some healthy trash talk or drop the gloves when it’s necessary. It’s a mentality that has worked for the Norfolk, Va., native: he was a two-time NCAA Division III Defensive Player of the Year and National Player of the Year at Salisbury State, an NLL All-Star in 2008 and a two-time MLL All-Star.
“I’ll get in your face and not give an inch,” he says. “Especially in indoor. It’s a different game. You have to grit it out and stand up for yourself. Opponents try to find the weakest link and exploit it.”
As busy as Martin has been on the playing surface in 2010, he’s been equally busy off the field. A current resident of San Francisco, Martin is one of the directors of Golden State Lacrosse Academy along with friend and University of Virginia and Chicago Machine star Chris Rotelli. The pair created the Academy to continue the growth of lacrosse in the Bay Area through camps, clinics and the development of travel teams to face other squads around the U.S.
“We really want to help these kids improve their game and get them seen and recruited,” says Martin. “It’s an ever-growing, always evolving process and very rewarding to give back to the game.”
Martin also takes part in One City Lacrosse, a program designed to bring lacrosse to inner city youth in San Francisco. The program provides donated equipment for elementary students to use during recess while instructors like Martin teach them the basics of lacrosse. For those that want to pursue the game further, One City Lacrosse assists in fundraising efforts to buy their own equipment and get them involved with local club teams.
“The goal is to get kids into lacrosse that wouldn’t otherwise see the game,” Martin says.
All of this on top of his “day job” as a representative for Harrow Sports. That job requires a bit of travel, as Martin visits teams and camps to introduce them to Harrow lacrosse products.
While his NLL offseason hasn’t provided much time off, Martin is still ready for camp, eager to defend the NLL Championship.
“It’s tough to repeat in anything,” says Martin, who knows all about repeat championships, winning back-to-back NCAA Championships at Salisbury. “Everyone has us circled on their calendar. There were a few tough losses on the roster, and some great additions, but we pretty much have the same team. It’s going to be an exciting year. We just need to train hard and work hard.”
Until Stealth training camp starts in December, Martin will continue working on all his lacrosse endeavors, but the Virginian-turned-California kid will find time to catch some waves at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Surfing has become a favorite hobby of his; and it’s not surprising that someone who plays with reckless abandon on the floor risks life and limb in his down time.