By JORDAN KONIOR, Staff Reporter
Much like her major in the classroom, University of Michigan-Dearborn senior outside hitter Nia Martin means nothing but business.
Martin has been nothing less of a star and a hidden gem for the Lady Wolverines’ volleyball program and former head coach Mike Gibson. But Martin will be the first to tell you that volleyball was not her first love.
“It was basketball,” said Martin.
Martin’s love for volleyball began when she was in ninth grade at Mercy High School in Farmington Hills, Michigan. “I never played the sport (volleyball) before, but I missed basketball tryouts. At the time, my ride home from school was a senior trying out for varsity volleyball, so I just decided, ‘Why not try out?'”
This decision to play volleyball turned out to be life changing for Martin as she decided the sport was something she wanted to pursue at the collegiate level.
“When I played AAU volleyball for head coach Irick Gardner my eleventh grade year, he told me that I had more than enough potential to play at the college level,” Martin said. “He even said he would start the recruiting process for me.”
Heading into her senior year of high school at Mercy, the offers started rolling in for Martin.
“I had offers and interest from Howard, Arizona State, FAMU (Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University), Kentucky State, Indiana Wesleyan, Marygrove, and UM-Dearborn,” Martin said. “I was going to commit to Howard, but basically they took too long scheduling a visit and it was nearing my time to commit.
“Although I didn’t want to go to a commuter campus, UM-Dearborn was my primary choice for the UM degree and the fact that they wanted me immediately.”
In her time as a Lady Wolverine for the women’s volleyball team, Martin has stood out as somebody that is a leader and an individual well respected among all of her teammates and competitors. She has dramatically progressed with the years, getting better statistically each season.
Over her four year career, she racked up a total of 955 kills, 29 assists, 61 service aces, 1253 receptions, 668 digs, 19 solo blocks, 130 assisted blocks, and 149 triple blocks.
She’s also won Most Improved Player and All-Tournament Team for two tournaments while at UM-Dearborn.
Many people would likely describe her as the face of the program, representing the maize and blue “M” on a nightly basis. Last summer, Martin was chosen to represent the team during the athletics promotional overhaul at the university. She’s been featured on banners and posters across campus, including a nine athlete banner hanging on the Fieldhouse’s side.
For Martin, being a senior and coping with life after volleyball has been both a difficult but smooth transition.
“I am going to miss the experience of being on a collegiate team, as well as all the friendships that I have built over the past five years.”
Some of Martin’s best memories during the past four years came from team trips. Her personal favorites were to New York, Washington D.C., and Disney World, not only for the fact that she loves to travel, but because she got to form memories with her teammates which will last a lifetime.
Martin best describes her life after volleyball as “focus driven.” On track to graduate this spring as a marketing major, she hopes to finish strong, making plans toward her career while joining organizations she missed out on as a result of being a collegiate athlete.