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Former Wildcat finds success around the world

Since graduating from Chico State in 2014, Luis “Louie” Martinez has taken his game around the world.

Luis Martinez
Practice makes perfect as Luis Martinez prepares for his match. Photo courtesy of Luis Martinez.

The 25-year-old Wildcat alumnus played five years for Chico State helping the men’s soccer team reach the NCAA Tournament in 2013 and win its first-round game against Seattle Pacific. Getting the NCAA tournament win was Martinez’s most coveted memory of his collegiate career.

Luis Martinez
Martinez stays focused as he maneuvers through the defense. Photo courtesy of Luis Martinez.

“I’d never played in the NCAA Tournament before, so that was a really big moment for me being a senior playing in my last year,” Martinez said.

Luis Martinez
Martinez looks to set up his teammates for a goal. Photo courtesy of Luis Martinez.

Felipe Restrepo, men’s soccer head coach, said he remembers coaching against Martinez back when he was still coaching soccer in Davis, CA.

Luis Martinez
Former Wildcat Luis Martinez hustles after every loose ball. Photo courtesy of Luis Martinez.

“He used to play against my club team when I coached in Davis,” Restrepo said. “So I’ve known Louie since he was 14 or 15 years old, and I’ve watched him grow up and do some great things in his life.”

In the offseason, Martinez would train with a player developmental league team called the Portland Timbers. This way he could stay in shape and also improve his game for the next level. That training appears to have paid off.

Martinez’s career took a big leap after finishing his first season with the San Jose Earthquakes, a player developmental league team, when he was offered a spot on Asociacion Deportiva Guanacasteca, a second division pro team located in Guanaste, Costa Rica.

“It was really tough to be so far away from my family and friends,” Martinez said. “But when you are chasing your dream, you have to do whatever it takes.”

Playing for a second division pro team was one of the biggest challenges of his soccer career. Martinez stayed with a host family for the 5-6 months he was in Costa Rica.

In Guanaste, the whole team would come together to show support for ADG. Every Sunday, the team would have a game with one bye week mixed in the schedule. The fans were spirited— they would scream, yell and boo if they lost. The fans were diehards that were always there for the team, win or lose, Martinez said.

“It was really crazy because the fans would be so into the games and you really didn’t want to disappoint them,” Martinez said.

The competition that Martinez faced in Guanaste was some of the toughest he’s ever played against, mainly because he was playing against older men instead of college kids.

“These were grown men out there playing. Some were probably 35 years old and they were really physical,” Martinez said. “The ball movement and the movement without the ball was much faster than in college or club soccer.”

During his time playing for ADG, Martinez helped the team get to the semi-finals, scoring two goals in its playoff run.

Since returning to the United States, Martinez has been making even more strides toward his goal to someday play professionally for Major League Soccer. Recently, Martinez was named MVP of his player developmental league team, the FC Tucson.

“I’m truly honored and humbled to win the MVP award,” Martinez said. “I play on a great team and there are a number of guys who deserved it. I’m very blessed.”

This is just another accomplishment to add to his already impressive resume as a soccer player with big dreams and a determination to one day play professionally. His former coach will tell you he has the work ethic to make that dream a reality.

“I think the most impressive thing about Louie is his drive,” Restrepo said. “The kid wants to be a pro, and he’ll do anything to get to that point. If it means being out on that field all day, every day, that’s what he will do to make it happen.”

Jason Spies can be reached at [email protected] or @Jason_Spies on Twitter.

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