CARBONDALE (WSIL)-- SIU Women’s basketball player Nicole Martin has had an impressive college career – three time All-MVC Selection. Now she's taking the next step, signing to play professionally in the top-tier basketball league in Switzerland.
"It’s crazy," said Martin. "I would have never thought all this stuff would happen, like, I don’t even know how to put it into words, it’s just excitement."
In less than three months, Martin will head overseas to play in Nyon, Switzerland. Martin says signing a professional contract was similar to her college signing.
"Even in high school I was in AAU teams, but signing a basketball contract to play at like a college was a big deal to. I was just, like, we’ll just see where it leads me. So to be honest it’s kind of like the same feeling, like surprise and excitement, like I can’t believe this is happening type thing."
Martin has come a long way from the first time she picked up a basketball.
"I did not like basketball as a kid," said Martin. " I did not like the sport at all. I was convinced it was like a boys for it, and I was like, and I’m not interested at all. So I didn’t really start playing like organized basketball until eighth grade. So, when all these new things kept happening, and I got a basketball scholarship, and I never thought that would happen. I’m very thankful for the people who got me involved in a sport and helped me get better each and every year."
To SIU basketball head Coach Cindy Stein, Martin’s signing does not come as a surprise.
"I think right from the get-go we really believed that she could, because she was such an elite athlete, and I think when you are that kind of an elite athlete you can jump out of the gym," said Stein. "She is fast. She has really good work ethic. We knew right away that she definitely had a chance, and it was basically her refining her skills and growing in a lots of areas. Becoming more versatile. She worked on everything all the time. She is probably the hardest worker we’ve had all for years."
Martins role on the court however will change in this league.
"So, in college I was like a five all four years." said Martin. "I stayed in the paint, and after talking with the coach, he was letting me know that I would be more of a three or four. So, it was going to be a complete change of position. But although I’m nervous about it, I’m kind of excited because I’ve always wanted to stretch out a little bit and be outside and do both, be like an in and out player. But as far as my role, I have no expectations. Honestly, I feel like this year is just going to be a learning experience for me really, but I’m just gonna do my best really and help the team out as much as much as I can."
"What I think is great about Nicole is that she is so easy to play with," said Stein. "You can basically throw the ball anywhere. So I was a guard, so those are the type of people you love, because if you make a mistake she makes up for it because she has the speed to catch up to it. She can jump and catch kind of crazy passes. Those people are fun to play with because they make you look good."
But for Martin, she’s just excited for what Switzerland has in store.
"I don’t know what to expect, and I’ve never been outside of the country for one, so I mean definitely the food," said Martin. "I am an eater, so Switzerland food here I come. And just like learning a new culture, like I’m all about that type of stuff, and so I’m really just excited about it all, like the game of basketball. I love this game, and I’m able to play it somewhere new. But I did hear it is very cold up there, cause I’m kind of worried because I like the cold but there’s only so much of it I can take. But that’s probably the one worry I have about it."
Martin also comes from a large, athletic family - eight siblings and both her parents were collegiate athletes. But with this signing she becomes the first one in her family to go pro.