Jasmyn Martin decided more than two years ago, yet the tug-of-war continues.
A two-sport standout for much of her life, the 6-3 Hopkins junior chose volleyball over basketball before her freshman year of high school. She knew she couldn’t commit the time needed to maintain the level of play in both sports that she demanded of herself.
That choice caught many people by surprise. After all, her father, Tracy, was a standout athlete at Brooklyn Center — he later played pro football — and coaches an elite level AAU girls’ basketball team for the Minnesota Stars club program. Older sister Jade led Bloomington Kennedy to the Class 4A state championship game, where the Eagles lost to Hopkins; she currently plays for Georgetown University. Jasmyn, an eighth-grader on that Kennedy team, transferred to Hopkins before her freshman year.
Most knew she was also a highly sought-after volleyball player, but few thought she would give up a sport that seemed so intrinsic to her family structure.
“It was a really difficult decision,” she said. “Especially because I come from a basketball family. But I knew that if I stopped playing volleyball, I would regret it.”
It didn’t hurt that club volleyball in Minnesota is among the nation’s best. Her club, Northern Lights, regularly competes for national titles. Last year’s roster read like a who’s who of the metro’s best high school juniors. It included Brie Orr of Eagan, Brynn Carlson of Cretin-Derham Hall, Claire Sheehan of Cambridge-Isanti, Bre Maloney of Roseville and Halle Johnston of Lakeville South.
Playing with such elite-level talent, Martin said, gives her a feeling basketball cannot match.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “I just love how competitive volleyball is, how fast it is. When you get a kill, it’s the best feeling in the world. It’s like no one can stop you.”
And Martin gets plenty of kills. She’s a smooth and fluid athlete whose hard-to-find height and long arms allow her to hit with power and precision.
Her explosive leaping ability is a perfect fit for the volleyball court.
“I coached against her in club volleyball when she was in sixth grade and I remember thinking ‘Wow, this kid is special,’ ” said Vicki Swenson, Martin’s current high school coach. “Her potential is through the roof.”
Martin still has a lot of developing to do, particularly defensively. Swenson has her playing all six rotations, for the first time ever, to help her improve her all-around game and take advantage of her ability to be an offensive force from the back row.
“I feel strongly that tall girls have to play a complete game if they want to play at the next level,” Swenson said. “She’s got the skills. She’s so long and wickedly fast. She just needs to learn how to read and anticipate the [opponent’s] attack.”
Martin’s skill set helped her land a scholarship offer from the University of Minnesota, where she’ll play when she graduates in 2017.
“[Gophers coach] Hugh McCutcheon and his staff are the best ever,” Martin said. “And it’s in the city, and I’m a city girl.”
Even that hasn’t scared off Division I basketball programs, however.
“The University of Tennessee sent me a puzzle that is a picture of me in a Tennessee basketball uniform,” Martin said.
“It’s Tennessee and it’s flattering, but I’m committed to volleyball.”