BVU grad signs with Buccaneers
Carlos Martinez has had a dream to kick in the National Football League since he was nine years old.
He's just about there.
After a banner four years as a field goal kicker/punter for Buena Vista University, he signed with the Fresno Frenzy of the Arena Football League.
The Philadelphia Eagles took notice of Martinez' ability and signed him to a deal, also inviting him to 2003 training camp. He played in three pre-season games for the Eagles and kicked well, but was eventually released by the Eagles.
But talent is talent, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers expect signed Martinez recently. He'll be kicking next season for a team in the European World Football League.
"Next season in Europe will be a make or break year for me," said Martinez.
And, he is setting his goals high for the upcoming season across the Atlantic.
"I don't plan on missing one kick or point-after kick and I'm going to kick off well," he said.
Setting goals and pursuing dreams is nothing new for Martinez. He was at St. Mary's school speaking to that school's DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, sharing how he avoided the temptation to use drugs and alcohol.
He said during a speech to students and parents that staying free of drugs and alcohol wasn't always easy, but there were several keys in doing it, he said.
"I think it's important to have a long-term dream, and mine has always been to be an NFL kicker," said Martinez. "But if you have a dream, it's also important to set short and long term goals. Having a dream without goals is like a peanut butter sandwich without the jelly."
Drugs were not are part of Martinez' dreams, or long or short term goals.
He talked about that during his speech.
Looking back, he said, he was grateful for his parents, teachers and coaches for steering him in the right direction.
At times, he added, he wasn't happy when his parents grounded him, his teachers urged him to do more or his coaches criticized him.
"But they were just trying to make me a better person," he said. "And the peer pressure to do drugs is always there. But I was always involved in sports. I'd go to school during the day, and practice sports afterwards. When I'd go home, I had to study and was too tired to do anything after that."
Martinez played football, wrestled and soccer for Papillon, Neb. High school.
He added that staying away from bad influences, drugs and alcohol became more difficult at the college level.
"In college, you're responsible for making all of your own decisions and you start to realize that there are consequences for those decisions," he said. "For instance, you don't have to do your schoolwork but if you don't, you might wind up getting kicked out of college."
What helped him in college, he added, was a strong work ethic, something that came from setting long and short term goals, and within the framework of his lifelong dream.
"I spend a lot of time in the gym just working out, trying to be a better kicker," he said. "But you have to make sacrifices. I never went to parties that a lot of students did because I wanted personally to stay away from that."
Instead, he concentrated on football and school work. He did well in both. He finished with a double major in Sports Management and Business Administration. This past fall in Des Moines, Martinez worked for Wells Fargo bank as an account analysis representative.
Still, Martinez' is chasing his dream, and at BV, he became one of the most prolific kickers in Division III college history .
His list of honors and accomplishments are too numerous to mention in such a short space.
But he finished at BV as the all-time scoring leader and among the honors he received after his senior season with the Beavers included being named Division III All-American and the National Special Teams Player of the Year.
Martinez also had a strong junior season. Prior to his senior season, he was named to no less than five pre-season All-American teams.
After his senior season, Martinez became the second-leading NCAA Division III field goal kicker. He kicked 48 field goals during his four year BVU career.
Also during his senior season, he tied an Iowa Conference record for most field goals in a game, with five. And they weren't short ones, either. During that contest, he kicked field goals of 50-yards, 49-yards, 48-yards, 45-yards and 28 yards. BV won the game 15-14, Martinez remembered, with all the Beavers' points coming on field goals.
Martinez also is was a punter for BV. During his senior season, he averaged 41 yards per punt and punted within the 20-yard line 15 times.
All that attracted interest from NFL and other teams.
But for Martinez, the best times just might be ahead.
He doesn't yet know what European football team he'll be assigned to, but knows he'll have to kick well.
He said although he'll be signed with Tampa Bay, if he kicks well in Europe, all NFL teams will be watching.
After the season in Europe is over, he'll go to the Buccaneers' training camp, where he hopes to do well.
But if Martinez keeps setting long and short term goals to coincide with his lifelong dream, one wouldn't want to be against him.