In this conversation, new Gotham FC defender Nealy Martin discusses her style of play, belief in the club’s plans, new goals as a veteran NWSL player, some of the people who have impacted her the most in her young career, and her favorite activities when not competing on the pitch.
For those who have not had a chance to follow you closely since joining the NWSL, how would you describe your style of play?
My style of play is pretty simple. I work as hard as I can, win challenges, and distribute the ball to the playmakers on the field. I tend to break lines by connecting via passes.
What was it about your discussions with Gotham FC that made you realize this was the right club for you?
After speaking with both Yael (Averbuch West) and Juan (Carlos Amorós), I really loved to hear the style of play and the vision they had for the team moving forward. Based on my conversations, I felt the club truly wanted to invest in players and push them to develop in every facet of the game as well. These were key pieces as to why I felt this club was a good fit for me. I am eager to learn from the staff and my teammates!
Have you spent much time in the New York metropolitan area before?
I’ve spent a brief amount of time in the New York area. However, after spending a lot of my time in the more southern parts of the country, I am very excited for a change of pace. I love to keep myself busy, and this lifestyle seems to suit the New York – New Jersey area quite well.
We read a story about how, when you were younger, you wrote down some goals on an index card. You achieved all of them, including playing soccer in Division I. What are some of the goals you have now?
My goals now tend to be more team-oriented. I obviously have personal goals as well, but I want the team to succeed. In order for that to happen, I need to contribute positively in all facets on and off the field. I want Gotham to be contending as one of the top teams in the league this season, so I am ready to get to work and do whatever it takes to make that happen!
As a former captain of the Crimson Tide, what does leadership mean to you? How did you lead at Alabama?
Leadership for me is about being a servant and about action. Humility plays a huge role in this, where leaders must be willing to put other people before themselves. Leadership also is a lot about action. You have to set the standard if you want to gain the respect of your teammates, not just talk the talk. I tried to embody these two things in my role at Alabama.
Who are some of people who have meant a lot to you on this journey as a pro in the NWSL?
First, I believe I am in this role because God has had His hand in all of it. For me, I am trusting His plan and I believe He led me to Gotham for a reason!
My family has supported me from day one of my open tryout with Racing Louisville. They are my biggest fans and the people I dearly love. My teammates the past two years in Louisville have also been mentors, best friends, and confidants throughout this journey so far.
Lauren Milliet is one that has been by my side since my rookie year. She has been a teammate that has taught me so much about the game and how to handle difficult situations. She is someone I really respect and is a sounding board for me in this career, and she has used her experience in the league in order to guide me in my mine. Savannah DeMelo has also been someone I have truly relied on. Although it was her rookie season this past year, she has taught me so much about the game and how she approaches any situation in life. It was an honor to share in her success this past season and learn so much about her mentality on the field and off the field. She is someone I respect as a player and will always have as a best friend.
There are so many other people that have pushed me to be my best and that I have built relationships with, and I value all of them! Every relationship and experience is an opportunity to learn.
How do you like to spend your time when not on the pitch?
When I’m not on the pitch, I love to spend time competing in any activity, whether that be cards, spikeball, or any game! I also love to be outdoors whether that be the beach, mountains, lake, or anything in between. One of my favorite activities may also be pulling pranks. There’s nothing like some good practical jokes in order to bring a smile to people’s faces.