Titans’ Martin signs with West Alabama

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By Chris McCarthy/Editor

As the daughter and granddaughter of soccer coaches, Bailee Martin was very likely practicing corner kicks before she learned how to tie her shoelaces. 

That early exposure to the sport paid off handsomely for the Gadsden City High senior on Monday (Feb. 1) when she signed a scholarship with the University of West Alabama in Livingston.

A five-year starter on the GCHS varsity at striker and center back, Martin helped the Lady Titans make the state playoffs the past four years. Her Vestavia Hills Soccer Club team scrimmaged UWA last year. After the game a UWA coach invited Martin to a camp, at the conclusion of which she was offered a scholarship. 

“It’s a big day, and I’m blessed and thankful for everybody’s support,” said Martin, who began playing in the local Etowah Youth Soccer Association at the tender age of 3. “It should be a great experience, and I’m looking forward to it.”

GCHS girls soccer coach Samantha Corker has been involved with Martin’s soccer career since she was 11. 

“I’ve seen Bailee grow up on the field, and she loves to play the game of soccer. To see her dream of playing in college come true makes me truly happy for her. During her time here, Bailee has been a leader for the Titans and helped move our program forward in Class 7A soccer. I hate to see her leave because we have become so close, but I know she is ready to compete at the next level and is ready to grow even more.”

Martin’s dad Bill played soccer for Gadsden City and was a member of the Tigers’ 1992, 1993 and 1995 Class 5A state champions. He currently is the director of coaching for the Etowah Youth Soccer Association. 

“It’s an emotional moment for me and for everyone that’s helped Bailee get to this point,” said Bill Martin. “This is a dream that’s she’s had for a long time, and it’s very special to see that dream come true for her today. She loved to play at an early age and she’s worked hard to improve her game. 

“Before he passed away, my dad said that helping Bailee was his last project, so he’s definitely having a reward upstairs today.”

Bailee’s grandfather Billy Martin, who passed away five years ago, coached her for four years while she was in the EYSA. He also was the Gadsden High boys and girls coach for 15 years, during which time he helped the Tigers win three state championships and two state runner-up trophies. 

Bailee Martin will join 2014 GCHS graduate Chelsea Commings on the West Alabama roster. The 2015 Lady Tigers went 14-6-1 overall and 8-3-1 in the Gulf South Conference.

Vestavia Hills Soccer Club executive director Rocky Harmon and VHSC girls director A.J. Adcock coached Bailee Martin in club ball the past several years.

“Bailee has not only shown what it takes to play college soccer on the field, but she really gets it off the field as well,” said Harmon. “I can’t wait to see the impact Bailee makes at the collegiate level, both on and off the field. She has one of those personalities that brings life and energy to people, and she is going to make Coach (Graeme) Orr an awesome center back.”  

Bailee Martin volunteers her time both with young VHSC players and Top Soccer, a program for special needs children. As a result, the club named one of its younger teams after her

“Bailee’s got a ton of upside and will have a great college career,” said Adcock. “She’s a great kid to be around, and it’s been great to watch her grow as a player and a person.”

Bailee Martin is looking forward to her final season with the Lady Titans.

“There’s a lot of new girls, so we’ll have to work together, but we’re looking forward to the challenge.” 

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