SouthCoastTODAY (Mass.): "Martin Sisters Annie and Kate Continue Family Tradition at St. Michael's"

SouthCoastTODAY (Mass.): "Martin Sisters Annie and Kate Continue Family Tradition at St. Michael's"

This story originally appeared in the SouthCoastTODAY (Mass.). Also view a PDF on here.

By Brendan Kurie

There was something familiar about Annie and Kate Martin's (Mattapoisett, Mass./Bishop Stang) Senior Day last month at St. Michael's College in Colchester, Vermont.

That's because just five years earlier, the identical twins from Mattapoisett had been standing on the same St. Michael's field for the same girls lacrosse team's Senior Day. Back in 2014, it was Claire Martin who was graduating after playing 60 games for the Purple Knights, and by her side were her little twin sisters, then freshmen at Bishop Stang.

"I remember the people and the community," Kate Martin said last week of the family trips to see Claire play. "I looked up to Claire and her friends were so nice. It was like we were right there with them doing everything. That's the only thing I couldn't find in other schools."

The family ties to St. Michael's didn't stop with their older sister. It was their cousins, Sheila and Mary Catanzarita, who started the trend. Sheila was the first to attend, playing soccer for the Purple Knights and graduating in 2009, followed by Mary in 2012.

"We just loved coming to St. Mike's," Annie Martin said. "Everyone was always so friendly in community."

Annie and Kate were there the day Claire, heading into her senior season, met her new coach, Brigid Brady. At the time, they never imagined they'd end up playing for her.

Annie was a three-sport athlete at Stang, playing lacrosse, soccer and basketball. She and her sister started playing lacrosse in ORYLAX in fifth grade at the urging of their father, Louis (their mother, Beth, was a rower at Mercyhurst). But she'd been a standout goalie for the Spartans soccer team and imagined that's the sport she would pursue in college.

She looked at Providence, Marquette and Ithaca, but nothing seemed to fit perfectly. She knew Kate was planning to play lacrosse at St. Mike's. Suddenly it dawned on Annie, she should simply stop fighting the idea and head to Colchester.

"I always knew I wanted to come here," she said. "I finally admitted it to myself."

She was still planning on walking onto the soccer team as a goalie, but on the second day of school she changed her mind and contacted Brady.

"I got lucky there," Annie said. "They needed a defender."

It didn't matter that Annie had played attack in high school.

"I liked the girls who played defense and they taught me everything," Annie said. "I had fall ball to get the feel."

Early on, it was a work in progress. She committed seven turnovers in her first game. But she quickly improved, finishing the season with 29 ground balls and 19 caused turnovers.

Kate's journey was a little less circuitous. She had quit playing soccer and basketball by her senior year at Stang in order to focus on lacrosse. She looked at a variety of schools — Fordham, Providence, Skidmore, Ithaca — some primarily for lacrosse and some primarily for academics. In the end it came down to St. Michael's and Ithaca.

"I really thought I was going (to Ithaca)," she said. "I knew I would like St. Mike's so I did an overnight at both."

That was what clinched it for her. She was switched from attack to midfield at the start of her freshman year, but only played in seven games due to a stress fracture in her shin. She finished the year with four goals, three assists, eight ground balls and eight caused turnovers.

The next year, Annie came back and played 14 games as a sophomore, finishing with 22 ground balls, 22 caused turnovers and 29 draw controls. It didn't go as smoothly for Kate, who tore her ACL and meniscus in practice and had to have surgery over Christmas break, forcing her to miss her entire sophomore season.

"All I could do was touch my stick and throw it in the air and catch it, so I could improve my stick skills," she said. "Watching was helpful. My freshman year a midfielder was injured in the first game so I stepped up even though I wasn't ready to. It was nice getting to watch game next to coach on sideline."

Kate studied abroad the first semester of her junior year, causing her to miss fall ball. Then, during the season, she was hampered by a bulky knee brace. She finished that season with 13 goals, three assists, 12 ground balls, 13 caused turnovers and 31 draw controls.

It wasn't until Kate's senior year that she finally put together a completely healthy campaign, and it showed in her numbers. She finished with 27 goals, seven assists, 31 ground balls, 23 caused turnovers and 35 draw controls. She wrapped up her career with 44 goals, 13 assists, 51 ground balls, 44 caused turnovers and 69 draw controls.

Annie, meanwhile, was placing her name throughout the St. Michael's record book. She tied the school record by starting 60 career games, becoming the fourth player in program history to do so, and one of two defenders. She is the program's all-time leader in caused turnovers (93), surpassing Amanda Soule's mark of 87 set in 2008. Annie is second all-time in draw controls (143) and eighth in ground balls (124). Her 63 draw controls as a junior were a single-season school record.

They accomplished all that despite getting thrown for a loop heading into their senior season. In the fall, Brady had been out on maternity leave, and before the season was slated to begin, she announced she wouldn't be returning. In stepped assistant coach Courtney Barrett, who had just finished up her career as a goalie at UMass Lowell.

"That definitely changed our plans for the season coming in," Annie said. "We had a bigger role now, trying to tell the team it will be OK. That definitely put more on us and it changed the season, but it changed it for the better. It was new and fresh and it was what our program needed at the time."

"For awhile it felt like (the underclassmen) were working us through it," Kate said. "The seniors, the three of us were really close with our old coach so it was hardest for us. It changed our role as captains to assistant coaches."

While the one thing that escaped the Martins in their four years at St. Michael's was team success in the win column -- the Purple Knights were 12-48 over the last four seasons -- when it came time for their own Senior Day on April 20, and they realized the 11 members of their freshman recruiting class had been whittled down to three, including Alex Vincent.

"That was bittersweet," Annie said. "It was sad, but it was fun to do it with Kate and Alex. We got lucky with the squad we're playing with now. We are very close."

"It's weird, it's hard to think of lacrosse separate from graduation, but I'm so happy that we stayed with lacrosse," Kate said.

Kate is a political science major with a gender studies minor. She serves as the executive editor of the school newspaper, The Defender, and hopes to go into a career in journalism.

"I've really loved it," she said. "I found my niche."

As would seem to be her modus operandi, Annie took a less direct route to her degree in economics. She switched her major three times, and will graduate with minors in math and psychology. She is in the process of interviewing for a job in the Northeast-10 Conference commissioner's office.

Graduation arrives on Sunday, and they're both getting used to the idea of being both college graduates and ex-college athletes.

"I don't know if I'll ever play a competitive lacrosse game again," Kate said. "It's sad and sinking in. But I'm so glad I decided to play at St. Mike's."

For that, she owes Sheila, Mary and Claire a big thank you.