When Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and Co., found out the team hired assistant strength and conditioning coach Kelsey Martinez earlier this year, they didn't think much of it other than she must be exceptional at her job.
"When we first found out, we thought she must be a good strength coach for the Raiders and Coach Gruden to hire her," Carr said Tuesday. "She's been great working with the guys. I haven't heard anybody complain or anything like that, like 'oh man, she didn't know this or that.' She's very smart. She knows her stuff. I think that's why she's so respected."
While Carr and the rest of his teammates were excited to welcome a new face, along with an all new coaching staff, into the facility, no one was really discussing the fact the team had hired the only female assistant strength and conditioning coach in the National Football League.
The last few years, Martinez had been working with the Raiders current Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Tom Shaw in Orlando, Fla., training athletes like Raiders defensive end Bruce Irvin, defensive tackle Justin Ellis, and linebacker James Cowser, which made her transition to the team a lot easier.
Within the short span she's been with the team, it hasn't taken long for Martinez to establish herself as a professional, and share her wealth of knowledge with the players and coaching staff. In her eyes, she's just doing her job, but from the outside looking in, Martinez is achieving something only a handful of women have accomplished in her area of expertise.
"When Jon talked about coming to the Raiders, his enthusiasm was to help the team win because of the Raiders fans," Martinez said. "When I walked by 'The Black Hole' I got a chance to witness what he was so excited about. To see the Rams' stadium fill up with Raider fans, it felt like we were home. 'Whose house,' they said over the speakers... 'RAI-DERS'."
Martinez — who's very humble in nature — may think she's just going about her business, but she's serving as a positive role model to people everywhere, especially Raiders running back coach Jemal Singleton's five-year-old daughter.
"My daughter is five, so right now she's at such an impressionable age that the sights and sounds she's around will impact her really for the rest of her life," Coach Singleton said. "And to be in a situation here — I don't know if it's the first, or the only — but to get to have a female strength coach in Kelsey is unbelievable. Because now my daughter can see there's so many different roles when you come here. You hear [play-by-play announcer] Beth Mowins on the call [during games], you see Kelsey out there working the players, and it's one of those things as a father you want your daughter to have those aspirations to be whatever she wants to be."
Becoming a strength and conditioning coach wasn't something Martinez always aspired to be, but her passion for sports and the outdoors led her into the industry. Once her days of playing softball came to an end, Martinez searched for a way to gain experience in the sports industry during college, and ultimately stay near the thing she's most passionate about.
"I think this is a dream career," she said. "This is what kids dream of when they're younger."
While Martinez has successfully achieved her goal, but reaching the highest level of her profession, she's fulfilling much more than that. Her impact is touching the lives of people both young and old, male and female.