The New Guard
Three-Point Specialist Returns to University Basketball As a Stinger
Months ago, newly minted Concordia Stingers women’s basketball coach Tenicha Gittens had just celebrated her new job as Stingers head coach, similar to how most would do in the digital age—via Facebook post.
Among those who wished her congratulations was Marie-Eve Martin, a former university basketball player two seasons removed from her last game, who jokingly wrote that she would consider coming back to basketball as a result.
It was supposed to be a joke.
“I wanted to play, but I never thought, since I graduated and retired, that I’d ever come back,” said Martin. “It started as a joke and then I actually started thinking about it.”
“It wasn’t a joke for me,” added Gittens with a laugh.
What began as a simple Facebook comment, turned into discussions about a possible return to university basketball. Sure enough, in early August, the former two-time Réseau de Sport Étudiant du Québec all-star was unveiled by the Stingers as one of their newest players for the upcoming season.
“When you have a great player like [Martin] who wants to play for you, you bring her,” said Gittens.
Martin, who is originally from Granby, and Gittens are familiar with each other, as Gittens was Martin’s assistant coach at McGill. Gittens admits that they didn’t begin on the “smoothest of paths.” The head coach attributes this to how hard she pushed Martin—and other players—in practice, and how she doesn’t mince words if she feels the need to criticize.
But after listening to them speak to each other and joke around for a few moments, you’d think they were old friends.
“Playing for me is not the easiest thing,” said Gittens. “I just expect a lot from my players, especially when I know they can do it,”
“It was a love-hate relationship when I was at McGill,” said Martin. “When she left [McGill], I was the first one to cry.”
Gittens left the Martlets for coaching opportunities in the United States after two seasons. Meanwhile, Martin continued her time with McGill, a school where she spent three seasons playing, despite her brother, Sebastien, playing for the Stingers across town.
An article from The McGill Tribune in 2011 called Martin the “Reggie Miller of Martlet Basketball.” Miller, a legendary NBA player who spent his entire career with the Indiana Pacers, was known for his three-point shooting, and ended his career as the all-time leader in three-pointers made.
Martin led her team in three-pointers for all three seasons she played for the Martlets, beginning in the 2009-2010 year where she was named to the conference all-rookie team. In 2011, she led the entire RSEQ in three-pointers made and three-point shooting percentage.
“The times that the ball goes in, my brain goes off,” said Martin. “If I think [about the shot], I miss.”
Following her final season in 2012, a year that saw her team capture a provincial championship at the expense of the Stingers, Martin suddenly decided it was time to stop playing.
“It was time then for me to move on to something else, my heart wasn’t there anymore back then,” Martin said. “It wasn’t fun for me to play anymore.
“I had been playing since I was eight, pretty much 12 months a year,” she added. “I pretty much overdosed [on basketball].”
During Martin’s time off, she went backpacking across Central America. Guatemala was her favourite stop on her excursion, and the shooting guard enjoyed how friendly people were.
“You should see her shoes,” cracked Gittens. “She’s got these Vans [shoes], they’re supposed to be white. I don’t know what they are.”
“The times that the ball goes in, my brain goes off. If I think [about the shot], I miss.” — Marie-Eve Martin
If you stood outside the women’s basketball locker room for a moment this past Friday evening, you could have mistaken it for a private party, or maybe one of Montreal’s many clubs.
There was music and loud cheers, the sound muffled by the closed door that kept the energy inside. All that was missing was a giant bouncer, guarding the door with velvet ropes and a clipboard with the guest list.
The cause for celebration was the women’s basketball team’s 70-63 win over the Windsor Lancers, the five-time reigning national champions of women’s basketball, last Friday evening. The Lancers hadn’t lost a game in any form of competition in 10 months.
Martin and teammate Shanica Baker eventually step outside their temporary club for interviews, but before they answered a question, they couldn’t help but high-five each other and celebrate. They each took turns responding to questions with enthusiasm, smiling with every answer they gave.
Martin only played 11 minutes in the first half and was largely ineffective. She didn’t register a point or assist in the opening two quarters. She gazed at the first half scoresheet before laughing it off.
“It doesn’t matter, man,” she said. “I don’t care. I can score zero points, and if we win, I’ll be happy.”
The shooting guard’s first points of the game, however, couldn’t have come at a more crucial time. She scored a three-point shot, naturally, giving her team a 48-45 lead in the dying stages of the third quarter, much to the delight of her teammates and Gittens on the bench. She added five more points to her total in the victory.
“You’ve got to step up when you need to step up,” Martin said. “It was a big time in the game; it was close. You just have to zone out, do what you have to do and make those shots.”
It is only preseason, but Martin’s teammates are already impressed with their new shooting guard and see her as one of their own, judging by camaraderie they’ve shown.
“She has a winner’s mentality and that’s what we were missing last year,” said teammate Marilyse Roy-Viau. “You have to play hard, because you have to play at her level. It’s fun to have someone you can follow and she’s a true leader.”