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Sports bring mother, daughter closer

Claire had chance to follow in mothers footsteps, decided to pursue volleyball

Junior+Middle+Blocker+Claire+Martin+hits+the+ball+across+the+court+during+practice+Wednesday+evening.
Junior Middle Blocker Claire Martin hits the ball across the court during practice Wednesday evening.

Junior Middle Blocker Claire Martin hits the ball across the court during practice Wednesday evening.

ABBY LINNENKOHL | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

ABBY LINNENKOHL | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

Junior Middle Blocker Claire Martin hits the ball across the court during practice Wednesday evening.

RYAN BLAKE, Evergreen reporter

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Junior middle blocker and opposite Claire Martin is an essential part of the WSU volleyball team, but growing up she split her focus between two courts.

Martin was a standout player in high school basketball, lettering four times in the sport at Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma. She also racked up MVPs, all-conference nominations and league titles during her high school basketball career.

In her first year of high school Martin began playing volleyball and immediately excelled, leading her school to three Washington 4A championship titles. As the offers from schools began to roll in, she had a tough decision to make.

Despite her love for both sports, she ultimately chose to play volleyball at WSU, something that might not have happened if she had not been encouraged by her mother, Mary Raese Martin, to try out her freshman year.

“I’m literally thankful for everything she has done for me,” Claire said of her mom. “Coming to all my games, all my practices, driving me everywhere and just continuing to push me through everything.”

Mary followed a different path than her daughter in college. She played basketball at University of Idaho in the mid-1980s and led the Vandals to a women’s National Invitation Tournament title in 1986.  After college, she continued her basketball career professionally in France, and in 2007 she was inducted into the UI Hall of Fame.

“It was a great time of my life to be a part of the Idaho program,” Mary said. “We all worked … and made really good friendships that I still have today. I loved being part of the community there as well. Still when I go to watch Claire’s games I feel like I’m coming home.”

Mary currently ranks fifth in career scoring at Idaho and is the top shot blocker in Vandals history, with 306.

On a different court, her daughter excels in blocking as well. Claire had 140 last year, which ranks 10th best in WSU single-season history.

“We’re both like 6-3,” Claire said with a smile. “Good genes for blocking I guess.”

Claire had to work especially hard to make up for her late start in volleyball. She watched film of herself and players she looked up to to catch up, and admitted her experience with basketball helped with her athleticism and footwork.

Claire has always been a focused student. A mechanical engineering major like her father, she often has little time for activities outside of school and volleyball.

Mary said she’s always been impressed with Claire’s ability in the classroom.

“She’s never complained, she just keeps working hard,” Mary said. “She’s just focused that way. She always had a drive to do well in class and we’re really proud of her to be able to do what she does.”

While a career in engineering or professional volleyball exists in the future for Claire, she said she is still focused on winning at WSU and playing for their fans.

“The atmosphere of Pullman is something that no other school can compete with,” Claire said. “Our fans support us so much and I believe that they account for our wins too.”

Mary reiterated Claire’s sentiment about playing in the Palouse and said she hopes her daughter has a similar experience.

“I don’t really remember the games so much, it’s just being a part of the group and everyone striving for the same thing, the same goal,” she said. “That’s what’s so cool about the Palouse. Being a part of that community and representing them and the friendships that you make is the most important.”

Mary said her daughter’s smile on the court is infectious, and she loves to see her enjoying her time on the court.

“I like to see that see that she is very happy with what she has chosen to do,” Mary said. “We’re so very proud of her.”

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Sports bring mother, daughter closer