No one can accuse Ted Martin of being a frontrunner.
As the Harvard women's basketball team struggled through a 4-21 season last winter, the 11-year-old brother of team Co-Captain Kate Martin faithfully attended every home game and earned himself a job as the squad's official waterboy and ballboy.
The season before, the young Martin had proved himself a loyal fan and when the cagers headed to Dartmouth for the Ivy Championships. Ted accompanied them and toted the water bottles for his sister's teammates.
Just before this season opened. Coach Carole Kleinfelder mailed a letter to the Martin home in Woburn, asking Ted to take the job on a permanent basis.
"He really liked watching us play before, but once Carole wrote and asked him to be the ballboy, his status was established," said sister Kate the other day. "He had a responsibility, and so then he really got into it."
Indeed, Ted was so conscientious that on occasion, he even got early dismissals from school so that he could arrives at the IAB in time for afternoon tipoffs. Apparently, as for as this sixth-grade sports fan is concerned, no sacrifice is too great.
And Ted has always been the definitive sports fanatic. A devoted Red Sox follower, he named his cat "Butch" in honor of Butch Hobson, his favorite player.
At first, however, women's sports didn't appeal to him. "When she was in high school, I didn't think girls were as good as men at playing sports," he recalled. "But I like watching the college players. They're still not as good, but they're good."
Once converted. Ted not only accompanied his parents to the basketball contests, but also attended most of the Harvard field hockey games, where his sister is consistently the Crimson's top scorer. And he even convinced his buddy Matt Donohoe to come along once.
"My friends think Kate's smart because the goes to Harvard, and they think she's really good athlete because she tried out for the U.S. hockey team," he said.
Kate also recently made the varsity lacrosse team, and although her brother is duly impressed that she is playing three sports, he says he will continues to focus his attentions on the Crimson hoop squad.
"There aren't enough goals in field hockey, and basketball is my favorite sport to watch," he explained.
And following the basketball team has been very rewarding for the young water- boy. Because of his job, he has had the opportunity to hobnob with the squad's headliners--word from this insider has if that freshman guard Andy Mainelli is "really nice" because she always says "thank you when she gets the water." And during February's Ivy championships at the IAB. Kleinfelder saw to it that her captain's little brother was decked out in an appropriate uniform-- new Harvard sweatsuit, t-shirt, and baseball cap.
Ted recently won a public-speaking contest at his school, and he wants to attend Harvard because "I want to hang out with all the smart people."
But as a stellar basketball player and Little League second baseman (good field, no-hit), he also hopes to bring a little more Martin talent to Harvard before pursuing a career in professional sports.