Feb. 9, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. - John Martin has been a member of two national championship teams at Stanford and was an All-American ion pommel horse as a redshirt freshman. The Gainesville, Fla. native sat down to discuss transitioning into a leadership role, adapting to life in California and what he does when he's not in the gym.
How has the team evolved from last season?
"The strength of last year's team was the senior class; they made up three-quarters of our competing routines and had most of our top routines. It's been great the past few years having such talented guys to look up to and they were a huge part of us winning a national championship last year. This year it's a little different because the older guys are trying to set a good example, not just in the gym, but about anything that the underclassmen have questions about. As far as competition goes, we have to step up in the gym and compete in more events so there's more responsibility this year. Our team is so much smaller than last year going from 18 guys to 13 this year so there's more pressure to set an example for the younger guys."
How have you adjusted from Gainesville to the Bay Area?
"It's so different out here and every year it's a better experience for me. If I would have stayed in the South I would have been so sheltered from all the culture and diversity that's out here and I wouldn't have been able to experience so many things. I would be a lot more naïve to what's out there. The diversity of people and ways of thinking I've been exposed to and the chance to learn about other cultures, religions and political views has all been great. I do miss the humid weather a lot and sometimes I complain about it being too cold here, but it's great to be out here."
How did you end up on The Farm?
"As soon as I got into Stanford there were no other options in my mind. With the gymnastics program being so good and academics being what they are it made it an easy decision. I was not expecting too many recruiting calls from schools, so I was very surprised when (head coach) Thom Glielmi called me over the summer before my senior year of high school. I was a little naïve about the opportunity being presented to come to Stanford and if Thom hadn't called I probably wouldn't have applied. At the time I just wasn't aware of the opportunities available out here."
What kind of influence has head coach Thom Glielmi had on you?
"I was kind of intimidated by Thom for my freshman and most of my sophomore year; he's the guy who makes the decisions about who's competing and he's the head boss. He's been pretty encouraging, but there have been times when I haven't showed off what I needed to and he really got on me and pushed me to get better. With Thom, it's more a mental thing. He's been really helpful with ways to become more mentally focused when competing and that's been great for me. At the beginning of this year he talked to the upperclassmen about stepping up and becoming leaders and reminded us we have the talent to compete for a national championship and we weren't going to settle for anything less."
What do you do when you're not in the gym?
"I go alligator trapping every year, we started doing it when I was about twelve. My dad and uncle and I went out with a guide our first year and we had a blast. After that we applied for permits and started figuring out how to do it ourselves. We take the alligators to a family that processes them and they give us the hides and the meat. The last time I was home there was 230 pounds of alligator meat in my parents freezer and we had given most of it away. My mom doesn't particularly like to eat it, but I like it a lot and so does my dad. When we cook it's usually in a gumbo or fried, some of my friends make chili with it. We usually get the skins tanned. The first few years we had some wallets and belts made, and my mom has a purse. My uncle wanted a pair of boots so he had them made. The season runs from August 15 to November 1 and I'm usually home for about three weeks during that time and that's my life during that time of year, alligator hunting."