Martin Excited About Return to 'My Old Kentucky Home'
Dec. 7, 2012
CHICAGO – There is absolutely no one more fired up for Friday night’s game against No. 7/6 Kentucky than DePaul’s Anna Martin who was born and raised in the Bluegrass State.
Her first time playing in fabled Rupp Arena is the chance of a lifetime for the 5-foot, 9-inch senior whose family home in Nicholasville is one street away from the Lexington city limit.
“I vividly remember as a young kid walking into Rupp Arena for the first time to watch a game with my dad,” Martin said. “Tayshaun Prince hit five three-pointers in a row.
“I remember watching Gerald Fitch, Cliff Hawkins, Chuck Hayes, Jodie Meeks and Tayshaun Prince, and the teams I remember the most were coached by Tubby Smith.
“I’ve never had the opportunity to play there, and that’s going to be an amazing experience in itself. Rupp Arena is the mecca of all college basketball in my eyes.”
And for a young girl growing up on the Martins’ 10 acres of land where she had four different horses to ride, life so near Lexington meant pledging allegiance to the Wildcats.
“It’s something that’s in your blood,” Martin said. “It was bonding with my dad and brothers going downstairs as a little girl and watching UK games in the basement. It’s how I learned about the game.
“I’m still a big Kentucky Wildcat fan. I never miss a game if I can help it. I cheer on the men’s basketball team and the women’s team unless we’re playing against them.
“We don’t have any pro teams in Kentucky. This is our pro team. Some of my teammates say I always talk about UK. I tell them I feel the same way about UK as you feel about the Bulls, Bears, Cubs and White Sox. I have the same passion---just for a college team.”
There will be some passionate Anna Martin fans in the Rupp Arena stands Friday night. Her father’s boss bought 100 tickets for his company. Her mom sent Anna a list of 45 people who need tickets. There are friends and high school teams in groups of 20 or more purchasing tickets. It’s the first time Martin is playing so close to home.
“It’s awesome, an unbelievable experience going back home to play in front of family and friends---and I get to do that in Rupp Arena,” Martin said. “It’s real exciting to be going home. It’s going to be a great atmosphere, and I’ll know a lot of people.
“Kentucky is a very good team, and we’re going there to win.”
The Wildcats are 6-1 after last Saturday’s 48-47 road win over then-No. 6 Louisville on a three-pointer by former Whitney Young star and McDonald’s All-American Janee Thompson with 8.4 seconds left.
Going back home will be like a walk down memory lane for Martin, who grew up watching her dad race horses at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington.
“I’ve had four horses,” Martin said. “Rob was a saddle-bred, Woody a Tennessee walker, Tex a palomino and when I was in kindergarten, I had a pony named No Knot. I rode my first pony when I was four years old.
“We had a barn for the horses. We also had chickens and goats and three dogs. Before I really got into basketball, I’d go horse-back riding two or three times a week. I had one of the best childhoods and was always outdoors.
“I used to watch my brothers and sisters play basketball, but no one thought I’d become a basketball player. I was more of an outdoorsy child.”
As Martin got older, she became less of a homebody.
“I had a great balance growing up,” she said. “When I was younger I’d ride my horses all the time and some people would think I’m pretty ‘country.’ Then I became the typical teenager going to malls and restaurants and to the swimming pool a lot in the summer.
“What do I miss about Kentucky? My mom’s food. I’m taking the whole team to my house for brunch the morning after our game. She is a great cook, and breakfast is her specialty. She bakes great cinnamon rolls.
“I do miss my home, the peace and quiet. There’s a wrap-around porch with a rocking chair, and at night you can see every star. You feel a peace of mind.”
She can’t wait to show them “My Old Kentucky Home.” Last spring, Martin brought eight of her teammates home with her and they watched the thoroughbreds at Keeneland.
“Now, I’m excited for the whole team to see where I live and where I went to school,” Martin said. “I can hardly wait for everyone to try my mom’s cinnamon rolls.
“The eight girls I brought last spring---that was their first request for this trip.”