Employee Spotlight - Sarah Martinez

Photo of Sarah Martinez
September 30, 2021
Tell me about your current role at Yale University?
I am currently the Head Women’s Soccer Coach here at Yale. I arrived here in January of 2019 as an Assistant Coach with the program and was elevated to this role in December of 2019. While I’ve been in this new role for almost 18 months, I have yet to coach my first real game! I’m sure you can imagine how excited I am for that day to come. 
What are your main responsibilities?
I oversee all aspects of our women’s soccer program. We will have a team of 30 women this fall who are all itching to get back on the field. Aside from the obvious of coaching on field, my role consist of 90% more work off the field than on it. From recruiting, to team meetings, budget management, skill development, film breakdown and analysis, and so much more. While I am often judged on wins and losses, this job for me is so much bigger than that. I am a coach who believes in a wholistic, student-athlete centric approach, so developing and empowering the young women of my program is my biggest role. 
What do you like most about your work?
As I mentioned above, what I enjoy the most and what gives me all my purpose is watching young women leave as confident women who are ready to change the world. Often times the recruiting process begins when some of these student athletes are 16 years old. To watch them grow into their own selves from then until they leave at the age of 22 is incredible. Being at a University like Yale, the growth and ambition of all of these students is special, but having the experience to be a small part of that development is what makes me excited to come to work each day. 
How does your job affect your general lifestyle?
The role of a coach is one that never stops. Often times we can be the first call in good times but also tough times. Throughout this last year, I felt the emotional struggles of each of my student athletes every single day. What I learned along the process is it is still so important to take care of myself. Finding a routine and time to do things for me can be difficult, but I can only be the best for them when I am the best for myself. I live a very active lifestyle both when coaching and in my personal life. It gives me energy and happiness to ultimately provide more for each of the women of our program. 
How did you begin your career?
I was a student athlete at the University of Washington where I experienced a successful career and was mentored by some truly incredible people. Still to this day, when I need advice or some honest truth, my call is to my college coach. She empowered me, encouraged me, gave me tough love, and always believed in me. She is the reason I am here today in this role. When I finished playing, I went straight into a Masters program and finished my M.Ed within a year. After exploring some different avenues of college athletics, I quickly realized I was meant to coach and to empower women in the same way I was. I went on to work for the program that meant so much to me for about 5 years. From there, I moved from Seattle for the first time (I also grew up there) and took an assistant coaching position at Stony Brook University before ultimately ending up at Yale. What was meant to be a 3-5 year career step on the east coast, has likely landed me at my forever job!! 
What steps would you recommend one take to prepare to enter this field?
Keep learning, find great mentors, and surround yourself with winners - both in sport and in life. I have no doubt that I would not be where I am without the people I have been fortunate to have around me for my career thus far. Be willing to put in a lot of work for little glory. That becomes so easy when you are passionate about why and who you are doing things for.
What skills, abilities, and personal attributes are essential to success in your job/this field?
Connecting with others, passion for growth, organization, ability to bounce back after hard days, hard work, and an all in mentality to not only the program you’re working for, but the big picture. 
If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? If not, what would you change?
Absolutely. I could have never imagined I would be the Head Coach at Yale, but I feel so very fortunate to be here. If someone told me 2 years ago this would be my life, I would have never believed it but hoped it would be true. Even through this pandemic and an extremely difficult year, there is no where else I could dream of being. 
What does YLNG mean to you and how have you contributed as a member of the Steering Committee?
As a newer member of YLNG, I have really enjoyed being a member of the Steering Committee. I spent my first few months getting a feel for the group and understanding the vision and purpose. This platform provided for so many is inspiring. It is a safe space. It is something so many look forward to every month. I am excited to continue to contribute through fundraisers, events, and time towards making YLNG a committee people are proud of. 
Photo of Sarah Martinez
Photo of Sarah Martinez