Nov. 20, 2006
The sight of a couple of big and tough-looking guys, big and tough enough to be linemen on a Division I college football team, bounding up to your doorstep and ringing your doorbell would make anyone a little wary about opening the door so much as an inch these days.
The task was to inform residents in the Rice neighborhood that the Owls' football, soccer and volleyball teams were beginning their respective seasons. To make a bridge between Rice athletics and the community, the door (literally and metaphorically) has to be opened. Once opened, there then needs to be someone, a leader in fact, to show the big, tough-looking linemen how to make the most of their people-skills.
Rice student-athletes did just that before the start of the 2006 fall semester. Some of them were lucky enough to have a leader in their group like Owl junior Beth Martin, a defender on the soccer team.
"We were going door-to-door handing out team schedule cards and before our group started I spoke up and said, hey I already did this all summer, let me go ahead do this first one," Martin said. The Rice football players, almost certainly out of their element at the start of the task, no doubt felt a certain sense of relief that the 5-foot-3 Martin was there to provide some coaching by example. Going door-to-door was something Martin, a political science major from Austin, had spent the summer doing as part of work on a political campaign leading up to the recent elections.
Simply going door-to-door on the campaign trail was not the start or finish to Martin's pre-election responsibilities. By choosing to volunteer for a local candidate's bid for a state office, she was able to do more and learn more than she might have working on a national-level campaign. As a student of political science, Martin said that the candidate's particular party affiliation didn't matter as much as learning about the campaign process itself. One area Martin ended up overseeing in the campaign was the organization of some 70 house parties that served as a way to meet the candidate while potentially raising funds. Martin at first didn't see this as a good fit for her particular skills or reserved personality, but it was her experience in college athletics that told her that people often surprise themselves with what they can accomplish if they just put forth their best effort.
"I am always so busy with school and soccer that I am not really that big on the social scene and I never would have thought I could organize a campaign house party, much less the 70 or so that we ended up having," Martin said. "Sports was a good model for me though because I knew you have to get organized and get a game plan. You try to do your best but you realize there are some areas you have to trust to your co-workers. In soccer it's the same thing. You do your best and trust to your teammates, and they respond to that."
It didn't take long at all for the Rice soccer team to realize Martin is a natural leader. For the 2006 season the Owls' defender was named a team captain. She went on to earn all-Conference USA honors for the second year in a row. Martin was also named C-USA All-Academic Honorable Mention, juggling soccer and the books to maintain a 3.57 grade point average.
Though she desires to make a difference with her post-college career, not to mention that the state capitol is already in her hometown of Austin, Martin has all the makings of an ideal elected leader one day. Her aspirations, however, don't necessarily need to be in the spotlight so you might not see her on your doorstep again just yet.
"I think I could be an advisor to an elected official, or maybe even a consultant for a news organization," Martin said. "I've worked with a non-profit organizations my whole life and that has always been very rewarding on a personal level. It's important for me that whatever I do after college, my career reflects my values and that I am actually doing something for others and the community."
She is Rice junior Beth Martin, and she is one of Tomorrow's Leaders.