An ordinary women's basketball game will see Kate Martin--whether on the court or on the bench--shouting words of encouragement to her teammates. She will be diving on the floor in an attempt to grab a rebound, pull off a steal or try to save the ball from going out of bounds.
Last week, the Harvard women's basketball team got together to hold a somewhat informal election ceremony, and Coach Carole Kleinfelder gave her spunky guard and co-captain an award for being out of control and on the ground.
"I just love sports," Martin said. "I just get excited playing [them]. In high school, people always used to call me the spark plug."
And up through her high school days, Martin enjoyed the extra satisfaction of almost always playing on wildly successful teams.
But then she came to Harvard.
"I have never played on a winning team at Harvard," Martin said. "And I never played for a losing team in high school."
Take her word for it: Not one of the six varsity teams she has played on at Harvard--three years of basketball and field hockey--has won more games that it has lost.
For now, however, let's dwell on those fun and carefree days of childhood when everything went right for Martin's teams.
Martin has displayed her precocious athletic skills since she was a little girl of 10 years. She would play with people she wasn't supposed to associate with. She would beat a person whom she wasn't supposed to challenge Namely, boys.
"When I was in fifth grade, I played basketball with the boys' club," she said. "Then I played Little League. I would put my braids under my helmet. This was before girls were allowed to play baseball."
With a little prodding, Martin will admit she "could hold my own with the boys. You know how it is, girls are always taller than boys when they are growing up."
The following is just a sampling of Martin's secondary sporting triumphs:
Martin was co-captain of her softball team, an all-leaguer in softball and basketball, and an all-stater in field hockey. In addition, her teammates credited her with MVP distinctions in basketball and field hockey.
The teams to which she belonged also excelled. Martin's basketball career helped her high school squad soar to 14-4 and 16-2 seasons. Her softball team won its league championship and proceeded to post season play. And--most importantly--Martin's contribution to her field hockey team enabled it to gain a Massachusetts state championship
Martin is again co-captain on the women's basketball team Kleinfelder also describes her as the spark plug of the cagers' offense. Yet the three years that she has labored on the basketball team here, she has never had the satisfaction of witnessing her team approach a .500 clip. This year, the hoopsters are an abominable 2-18.
Martin has the distinguished honor of being selected to the All-Ivy field hockey team all three years which she has competed at Harvard. Last fall, she scored halt of the squad's goals. Next fall, she will serve as co-captain. But, again, the stickwomen haven't won more games than were lost.
Asked what it's like to play on these teams, Martin responded. "Well, it's not easy. Like I say, you just keep a stiff upper lip. Every time I go out I give 100 percent and hopefully other people will do the same."
Martin added, "The main reason that I play any sport here is because of the kids, the coaches and the competition."