Martinez, a senior setter for the 2013 Lee volleyball team, was a member of the Dominican Republic team that earned a silver medal in the recent U23 Women’s World Championships held in Tijuana, Mexico.
She began playing volleyball at the age of 10 and made her first trip to another country (Cuba) when she was 14 as a member of the Dominican Sub-18 squad.
Martinez admits volleyball still takes a backseat to baseball and basketball in the Dominican Republic. “Our sport has grown in the past eight to 10 years,” she said. “Cerrito B. Marte has had a great deal to do with our progress. He is called the godfather of volleyball in our country.”
Her journey to Mexico and gaining an invitation to join the U23 squad did not come easy. She traces her steps all the way back to the days when she was playing with the Dominican squad in Chicago. “There were a lot of college scouts at the event and I received an offer from USC (University of Southern California), but after I accepted the offer, things didn’t work out. As I later learned, [this] often happens to international students.”
Camil quickly realized that college scholarship offers go to the big hitters and not setters, but she received another Division I offer from Florida Gulf Coast and after a conversation with her parents, Juan Carlos Dominguez and Milagros Martinez, she began her college career. “My parents have always been great supporters,” she said.
After a couple of seasons in Florida, she realized the game style the Eagles play did not fit. “Again I spoke with my parents and they gave me the OK to transfer,” she noted. “I was told a lot of NAIA teams recruited international players and that’s where the names of Lee and coach (Hudson) came up.”
Martinez had a friend at another NAIA power, Brownsville, but turned down the offer to the Texas school and came up for a visit and to practice with the Lady Flames. “It has been a happy result. I’ve grown in a lot of ways here. I guess the cultural experience has been the most difficult thing,” she added.
After a successful junior season for the Lady Flames, she returned to the Dominican. Camil found herself in the gym daily, working on her game and with the U23 team. “When the qualification time came, we learned the other setter could not go to Mexico, and the coach (Marko Kwiek) asked me to go. I started yelling and screaming. I could not believe it.”
There was just one big catch, the World Championships would be held in October and that was right in the middle of Lee’s volleyball season. “First I asked my (Dominican team) coach if I could still be a member of the team, if I returned to college. He agreed,” said Camil. “I had to bring a letter back to Lee telling the dates I would be away from the team and my classes.”
Coach Hudson’s answer came quickly and was positive. “She and my teammates have been very supportive from the beginning. It could have not worked out any better,” said the happy Martinez.
The Dominican Republic is a small nation compared to the United States, China, Japan and many of the other countries involved in the U23 World Championships. Yet Martinez’s team whipped Argentina, Turkey, Italy and Mexico in pool play and lost only to Japan. The 4-1 record earned the Dominican a spot in the final four championship round.
Martinez featured a big smile when she spoke about her team’s victory over the United States. “They had beaten us several times over the years, and winning really felt good.” A powerful China team forced the Dominican to settle for the silver medal, but the event was still termed highly successful for the country’s volleyball program.
Camil rejoined her Lee teammates on Monday and admitted she was very tired, but she was a key factor in the Lady Flames’ win over rival Shorter University.
“I didn’t realize how much my teammates missed me and I appreciate the love they have shown me,” she confessed. “I want to do my best to help lead this team to the best possible finish. I’ll never forget how supportive they have been, and I want to leave a little part of me here.”
The Lee setter is working toward getting her degree in international business in the winter of 2014. She plans to return to the Dominican and “see what doors will open for me. I’d like to play volleyball for a couple of more years, maybe working and playing at the same time. I still feel like I have something to give to my Dominican team.”
No matter what direction she decides to go, coach Hudson is the first to tell you she will be successful. After all, Camil has been playing volleyball nonstop since the beginning of last summer. She has developed a work ethic and focus that spells nothing but success. Just ask any of her Dominican or Lee teammates.