By Shannon Cole
It’s a good day when no one notices Addie Martin.
“Unless someone screws up or someone gets really badly injured, no one ever notices me,” Martin said. “I think it’s a good day when no one even knows I exist during a football game.”
Though she may be small in stature, the quiet, strong force of sweet maternal energy that is Addie Martin looms large in the halls of City College’s Wellness Center. Martin has served as an athletic trainer for the school part-time since the early 1990s when she began to assist her brother, then-head athletic trainer Jose Bonilla, when she was fresh out of the physical therapy program at San Francisco State.
On paper her role is simply that of athletic trainer, but in practice it is much more. Athletic trainers can usually be found on the sidelines of a football game, taping up ankles, icing sprains and tending to cuts and bruises.
But Martin’s tasks, aside from her primary role of trainer, vary from filing insurance claims and offering a warm shoulder to cry on. Martin ensures that student athletes at City College are well-conditioned and stay healthy, but to many of them she’s more than just that.
“Most of these kids, they all view me as their second mom,” Martin said. “For some of them I’m their first mom.”
It’s a role that Martin fills happily as one of the few women in the athletic department support staff. “When someone needs an ear to talk to, advice, or whether it’s school work, professional or personal, I’m always that ear,” Martin said.
Martin grew up in the Bay Area and became active in sports when she was a young girl. In high school, she was a two-sport athlete, playing softball and basketball. But in the early days of Title IX implementation, there weren’t many options available to a young, intelligent athlete who just happens to be female. Martin found her calling in athletics somewhat by accident.
“Just by chance I happened to watch a college basketball game when they were featuring the Georgetown Hoyas. At that time, they had a female athletic trainer. I had no idea what an athletic trainer was. But they did a piece on her, and I thought that was really cool,” Martin said. “I got really interested in sports medicine.”
As time would tell, sports medicine proved to be the perfect way to combine her natural compassion and maternal side with her love for sports.
“I had been my dad’s interpreter when he went to physical therapy after knee surgery,” Martin said. “I thought that was really cool, what they did—get people better and back to where they once were.”
Today, that exactly what Martin does. She helps student athletes prevent injuries and makes sure they heal quickly and correctly, and she does it all without fanfare or arrogance.
Martin can usually be found tucked into the bottom corner of the Wellness Center, in view of student athletes sprawled across tables in varying degrees of recovery. Her tiny office is plastered with photos of her athletes, family and souvenirs of her beloved San Francisco Giants.
On the door outside Martin’s office is a photo snapped during the Rams championship football game in December, which shows Martin tending to an athlete on the sidelines, her expression like a drop of calm in a wild sea of action and emotions. In contrast, her computer’s desktop wallpaper captures Martin cradling the men’s basketball trophy while wearing the net around her neck like a fine silk scarf.
Both images show the many sides of Martin’s personality, at once a humble, hardworking woman and a proud team mom. It is evident in her beaming smile when she discusses the successes of her former athletes, or when she addresses the gaggle of former students-turned-interns who follow her every move around the training room.
Martin says the toughest part of the job is telling an athlete that their season, or perhaps even their career, has come to an end due to injury. In her calm, commanding way, Martin will get down on the floor or the grass with her athlete, look him or her in the eye and deliver the devastating news. But because she’s been there before, and experienced it herself, her athletes respect her even more.
But Martin’s favorite part of the job is hearing two simple words: thank you. “When you get that little recognition. These guys all came up after the game in December…the thank yous I got from these guys, the thank yous I got from their parents,” Martin said. “I got thank yous from a few coaches, and both our athletic directors thanked me for getting through the season.”
It helps to have a token to remember your efforts. Martin just received her fifth ring, a token of gratitude from football coach Jimmy Collins. She’s eagerly awaiting the arrival of her second ring order in three months, this one to commemorate the men’s basketball championship.
While her brother Jose may have eight championship rings, Martin happily pointed out the differences between her and her sibling’s legacies:
“He never won two championships in the same school year.”
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