By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – It’s time to pick the 2015-16 Bristol Observer Female Athlete of the Year and this time around, one candidate seemed to jump off the page.
This year’s award winner managed to earn a varsity letter in every one of her scholastic seasons – that means twelve letters overall – and the pick of Bristol Central’s Allie Martel was an easy one to make.
Think about that fact: she earned 12 varsity letters. You can’t get any more than that.
In fact, Martel floated right into the line-up of head coach Jen Broderick’s volleyball squad as a freshman and never left it.
And then her contributions in hoop and, obviously softball, puts Martel in a class that’s nearly all her own.
“She’s probably the most athletic kid I’ve coached, male or female,” said Central basketball coach Steve Gaudet. “I mean she could do everything.”
But was Martel an easy athlete to coach?
“The easiest,” said Gaudet, without hesitation.
And it’s not surprising that all her coaches echo that statement.
When it came to her play, Martel wasn’t flashy, not a prima donna in the least and was a quiet leader on the floor who everyone respected.
The most remarkable element of her athletic career was that she never took up her best sport at Central which was soccer.
“Her best sport was soccer and she didn’t play it,” said Gaudet. “That’s what she played all through middle school and the next thing you know, she wanted to play volleyball instead. She became a three-year all conference player in that.”
Again, and I always use this example to describe the best and brightest athletes from Bristol, but Martel is a clone of the late Boston Celtics standout Reggie Lewis.
Lewis could play multiple positions on the court for the C’s, never wavered or ducked under pressure, was that quiet leader teammates and opponents respected alike, and did everything for his squad – becoming the ultimate team player.
That’s Martel in a nutshell.
“Just whatever you wanted her to do, she would do for you,” said Gaudet.
She ended her scholastic career in volleyball as an outside hitter but could play several positions on the court.
Martel almost always led her squad in kills and digs on a nightly basis and with eight wins this season, she helped Central get back to the state tournament picture once again as she never missed out on the postseason during any of her four scholastic campaigns.
She’s been a starter since her freshman year and this past season, she zipped up impressive numbers.
In only her fourth match of the season, she reigned down 15 kills against New Britain, posted 14 kills and eight digs in a tough loss to Plainville and jammed in eight kills and 10 digs at Newington.
Those were typical nights for the standout.
In hoop, her role was quickly expanded when a little extra scoring punch was needed in the starting line-up.
She could play at guard or at small forward, handled the ball with competence and could attack the rim with zest.
Martel led the squad in scoring (11.9 points-per-game), was one of the nightly leaders in assists and though the team won just two games this past winter, she never gave up on her teammates when things weren’t working out.
She got to the free throw line with regularity and was capable of scoring 15 points in a half when her squad set her up.
“In earlier years, she was kind of a role player then all of a sudden, I needed her to take over on the basketball team as a senior and a captain and she did in all,” said Gaudet.
And in softball, it was all about the shortstop position, all about the outstanding defense and this season, her bat was active from preseason game one to the completion of the year.
Martel’s final numbers jumped off the page as she batted a blazing .488 with 38 RBI, 37 runs scored and drilled six round trippers.
And just through 13 games this season, Martel was batting “only” .429 but over her final nine contests, she was connecting on an insane .568 batting clip (21-for-37) that included 20 RBI and five home runs.
The good ones always seem to elevate his or her games during crunch times.
Again, that’s another Martel staple.
And then came the softball accolades: All Conference in the CCC South, All-State, Class L selection and Class LL All-academic.
And just last week, Martel was named to the New Haven Register All-State Second Team along with Charline Plasczynski of Bristol Eastern.
It was an amazing way to cap off her scholastic career.
But were there any negatives in her game?
Maybe she wasn’t vocal enough? Maybe she didn’t get on her teammates like a coach would want her to?
If those are the only negative elements you’re trying to conjure up about Martel, it’s not worth the time or effort.
“The only thing negative I could say was I wanted her to be a little more fiery, that’s just me,” said Gaudet. “But she was never afraid of the big moment. That’s why she was very easy to coach.”
That big moment saw her hit for the cycle in softball against Wethersfield in a 28-0 romp, drop 20 points in hoop against New Milford or spiked 10 kills against Rocky Hill.
Frankly, she simply did it all.
But it wasn’t all about the athletics. Don’t forget her classroom achievements such as her membership in the National Business Honor Society.
“She led by example in everything she did,” said Gaudet. “She was a good student, good kid on the court or on the field, wherever she was. She just did whatever her coach wanted her to do.”
That mentality will suit her well when she plays softball for the University of Connecticut.
In earning those 12 varsity letters, five of those seasons resulted in CCC South, All-Conference honors.
“She wasn’t looking for the glory or the fame,” said Gaudet. “She just wanted to help her team and be the best teammate she could be.”
And bottom line, what she did for the programs for Central, Martel left the school in a better place than she found it.
That’s the legacy every athlete should strive for.
“She’s probably the best athlete I’ve ever coached,” said Gaudet.
Awards – Honors (This is only a small sampling…)
CCC South, All-Conference, Volleyball – 2014, 2015
CCC South, All-Conference, Girls Basketball – 2015-16
CCC South, All-Conference, Softball – 2015, 2016
All-State, Class L selection
Class LL All-academic
Member of the 2015 Junior Select All-Star Game