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Norridge, 9/7/12--Esiah Martell, #7 defensive back & wide receiver for Ridgewood in action versus Chicago's King High School causing a fumble that was recovered by Sam Karim. | Vincent D. Johnson~for Sun-Times Media
There’s a lot more to Ridgewood senior Esiah Martell besides the fact he’s a star wide receiver for the Rebels football team.
He’s also a two-sport athlete, a natural leader on and off the field and someone who sees his football team as a part of his family.
It may come as a surprise to some, but Martell actually considers baseball to be his top sport.
“I’d like to play football or baseball in college, but I’m better at baseball,” Martell said in an email. “I have just loved the game since I was a little kid.”
Martell has been playing baseball since he was in kindergarten and he said he enjoys the athleticism and mental focus it takes to play the game. He is a center fielder for Ridgewood, but also spends much of his time playing for the Academy Elite travel baseball team.
“He’s a really good baseball player and it’s probably his number one sport, which says a lot because he (is) a pretty good football player,” Ridgewood football coach Chris Zack said. “I’m happy that he’s a committed ball player for us, but am looking forward to seeing what he does on the baseball field as well.”
This summer Martell spent most of his time in the weight room and at football camp training himself for the year to come. Since the start of the season he has become one of the leaders on the football team, someone who others look up to.
“He’s really stepped up and turned in to a leader on the team,” Zack said. “He’s a good influence to the kids; especially the younger guys who see that he works hard to be good at what he does and it rubs off.”
The hard work shows.
Martell recorded two touchdowns, including a 55-yard touchdown catch on the opening drive, in Friday’s 42-34 double-overtime loss to King. He later could be seen on the sidelines making sure his team stayed positive even when they were down by one touchdown on the final possession in double overtime.
“When someone’s down, he brings them back up, gives them a slap on the back and says you’ll get them next time,” said teammate Tammer Saadeh said. “I can’t put it into words. He’s just one of those one of a kind players.”
When asked about his performance on Friday night, Martell said, “It’s not about me. In the end we lost. We made a lot of poor decisions as a team, but we’ll bounce back.”
Playing sports is much more than just an after-school activity for Martell. As an only child who was raised by his mother, he considers his team to be a part of his family. He enjoys spending time playing football with the kids he grew up with.
“I enjoy the fact that our team is a family and we are all there for each other,” Said Martell.