Jake Martin started playing volleyball at age 5 in his backyard in Ohio.
Martin, his brother, Brad, his mother and grandmother played keep it up with an inflatable beach ball. The family’s goal was to hit the ball 100 consecutive times.
Jake Martin still remembers the first time they accomplished that task. “It’s just kind of a reward for how much you’ve been trying to get it,” he said. “I remember being pretty happy.”
Now, Martin, an outside hitter at Kingsway, is coming off a junior season in which he ranked in the top five in New Jersey in kills with 364. He also helped his squad advance to the NJSIAA South Jersey semifinals until Kingsway lost to Pennsauken.
But Martin wants to push his team further this season. “Our goal is that we want to go down as the best team in Kingsway history,” he said. “We want to get one last solid, good year before we’re all gone.”
Jake and Brad Martin haven’t slowed down since their days in the backyard with their family.
Brad Martin, a former libero at Kingsway who graduated in 2015, pulled two-a-days with Jake in the summer after he graduated.
The brothers went to the the Peachwood Recreation club in Logan Township, N.J., every morning in the summer and played on the volleyball courts. They stayed there until the pool closed at 9 p.m. unless there was an open gym at Kingsway, in which case they would practice with teammates. They took videos of their forms at practice, then watched them in slow motion to break them down.
Jake Martin said his brother helped mold him into the volleyball player he is today.
“His approach and his swing are so beautiful,” Brad Martin said. “It’s perfected. Mechanically it’s amazing. It’s flawless every single time because we practiced it over and over and over again.”
Coach Brent Dodulik remembers when Jake Martin and senior setter Chris Moorehead attended and watched games at Kingsway before they were on the team. Each of their brothers played for the high school.
Martin and Moorehead bumped the volleyball to each other in the gym during games. They also went underneath the bleachers and set the ball to each other.
Moorehead said it’s funny to look back on the time he spent with his future teammate at games and see what the Kingsway program has become. Kingsway should be a top-20-ranked team in New Jersey, Dodulik said.
“We’ve got the pieces to the puzzle,” Dodulik said. “Now it’s just my job to make sure they all fit.”