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Martinez completes successful year at NMJC

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Submitted Photo Former Roswell High volleyball player Cheyenne Martinez just completed her first year at New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs.

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Cheyenne Martinez used the first year of college to grow, as an athlete and a person. Her height and athletic ability allowed New Mexico Junior College first-year coach Alexandra Lehocky to play her to the setter position. It was not a position she was used to.

For Martinez and her former Roswell teammate Alex Gonzalez, everything was new. Both were part of the Lady Thunderbirds’ inaugural volleyball team. For the quiet Martinez, the experience was eye-opening. She helped lead her team to a 17-18 record and a 6-6 district record.

“The game is a lot faster,” Martinez said. “The players are quicker.”

Martinez played setter her senior year. She learned in college that her hands had to be a lot faster and her feet be in position. She feels like her Roswell coach, Heather Baca, helped her develop and be ready for college volleyball.

“The drills we did in college,” Martinez said, “were like what we did in high school. The main difference is that there was a lot of competition. To start, I had to beat out Eloise Rique, she was from France. …”

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One of her favorite memories was getting to know her teammates and traveling. Arizona and Colorado were two of her favorite places to play. She had to adjust to playing with new teammates, she had to learn new sets and how to communicate with her new teammates. Martinez felt it took some time to get used to them after playing with her Roswell teammates for her high school career.

After a successful season, coach Lehocky wants her to work on being quicker with her hands and feet. Those are things she could not work on during the season because they start playing games as soon as they get there, which makes it difficult. Martinez was working on her game before having to come home due to the coronavirus.

“Cheyenne’s first year as a Thunderbird went very well,” said coach Lehocky. “She earned the starting setter position and she took that leadership role on without hesitation. She improved daily and her knowledge of the game grew tremendously throughout the season.”

Martinez would like to continue her volleyball career after NMJC. She feels her best game was against NMMI. That game was so competitive, with the score going back and forth. Her team came up short, losing in the fifth set. Coming back home was exciting for her because she had a chance to play in front of her family and friends.

Martinez feels like coach Lehocky expected a lot out of each of the girls and for them to play as a team. She thinks that is good to have as a coach who has high expectations. “She knows what we can do, and she holds us up to that expectation,” Martinez said.

“Cheyenne is a natural athlete,” Lehocky said. “With that, she is able to understand and learn new techniques and movements. She is willing to learn and self-coach when needed. Cheyenne excelled during spring workouts. I am very eager to get her back for preseason Aug. 20.”

Coach Lehocky felt proud of all 16 players from their inaugural season. They were an unknown team; the future looks bright for the Lady Thunderbirds as they will have all 16 players eligible to come back next season. Already, coach Lehocky has the team’s goals at winning Region V and going to Nationals.

“When I first came here,” Martinez said, “I didn’t know what to expect, but I am happy with being here and the way things are turning out.”

Martinez either wants to be a scientist or do something in sports medicine when she is done playing volleyball.

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.