Photo: The Lantern

Outlook Ohio News: Jake Martin OSU Men’s Gymnastic Team Captain

Jake Martin is a fifth-year student and the captain for The Ohio State University’s men’s gymnastics team. Jake is anything but your ordinary OSU collegiate athlete, he is also a multi-lingual, political science student with big aspirations to assist underserved populations that cannot afford legal services.

When I first met Jake, I was expecting to have an in-depth discussion about his role as the gay team captain of the men’s gymnastics team, instead the conversation quickly changed into his diverse upbringing, studies, life goals and how he became team captain.

Martin was born in Orlando, Florida to a mother who is a first-generation immigrant from Jamaica and his father from Georgia. His mother moved to Brooklyn to attend New York University and later moved to Florida to help her grandmother with an ice cream distribution business where she met his father. Jake is the eldest of three.

Growing up, Martin was heavily focused on family, athletics, and academics. In his studies, he spent a lot of time focusing on learning languages. Languages Martin has mastered include Spanish, French, and Sign as well as teaching himself to read Russian. His drive toward excellence led him to The Ohio State University athletic and academic communities.

Martin currently studies Political Science, International Studies along with minors in Spanish and History. His real passion and life goals are within law. Martin states his mother was the biggest influence in pursuing a career in law with additional influences stemming from his Floridian roots and travels to Brazil. His career goal is to assist underserved populations with contractual, immigration and issues that focus on Latin community.

via Twitter

In his spare time Martin continues to learn additional languages and has since added Portuguese and Persian, has worked an intern with the OSU Sister Cities program and volunteered as a student mentor for OSU Pride. Martin reflecting on first coming to campus recalls the sense of being overwhelmed when he first arrived at OSU. He was not out to his friends and family, was starting college and gymnastics were his primary focus.

Gymnastics has been demanding and requires a minimum of 20 hours per week for practice, plus travel time for events. Martin states that the practice schedule is very challenging but the coaches are great and are extremely supportive. Martin is a two-time All-American in all-around and vault, 2014 Big Ten champion, 2014 First Team All-Big Ten selection,

Two-time Big Ten Gymnast of the Week and CGA Gymnast of the Week in 2014.

Martin is also sort of the comeback kid. He was injured his Sophomore year and had to take time off to repair a ligament. The rehabilitation did not allow him to do anything load bearing, which for a gymnast can be devastating. He spent several months working on balancing while gearing up for training. He commented that it was tough in many ways, things like learning to get back on your toes. He went on to say that the team and coaches were amazing and assisted him during the entire process, it felt good to have strong support.

In addition to getting back to performance strength, Martin was grappling with when to come out to his team mates or coaches. He said there were not many outlets to talk about it especially given the topic never arose. Over time to confront others about his sexual orientation he learned over that he needed to be explicit. People would always talk without using pronouns so people were either trying to be mindful or just stepping around the issue; I like to think they were protecting me. I think they were just waiting for me to come out and say it.

Martin waited to tell his friends and teammates until he after he spoke with his family. He said it was a little awkward with his family at first, given the social norms of his mother’s Jamaican heritage. He thinks that her time in Brooklyn helped expose her to diverse communities and that their strong family unit that they easily overcame any issues. He states “it is a lot different now, my mom and sister want me to do, what they consider gay things like shopping and how to dress and that is just not me. Not that I am against them, they just do not interest me.”

Coming out did not hinder his relationship with the team either, in his final year at OSU his teammates voted him captain to the team. At first he was not interested and the coaches spoke to him about it. “They saw leadership skills in me and gave me the nudge that I needed.” As a team captain Martin brought in athletic psychologists in to assist the team with performance and helping members overcome cognitive obstacles that may be hindering their performance.

 

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