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SPORTS FEATURE

Jessup, Broward land three Lincoln athletes

Zinzun, Martinez and Grand commit
By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
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The Lincoln High Athletic Department held another familiar ceremony when three Fighting Zebras’ athletes signed their Letter of Intent last week.

Reese Zinzun, Kylie Martinez and Haylei Grand were accompanied by classmates, family and friends, as they put their pens to paper committing to continue playing their sport for their respective college.

Making the biggest transition, as far as travel is concerned, Grand agreed to play softball for Broward College. The home of the Seahawks is located in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“I’m originally from Florida, so the school is like 10 minutes away from where I grew up,” said Grand, who plans to study elementary education. “I ended up reaching out to the college and told them I was interested in playing there.”

After a telephone conversation with the Seahawks coach, Broward extended Grand an invitation to join the Seahawks team.

Grand has played both third base and the outfield, but what is most telling about Grand is her ability to run the bases.

“Haylei is our quickness; Haylei is our speed. You put her on the bases and she’s not going to get thrown out,” said Lincoln High softball coach Donna Tofft. “She’s a smart base runner and she’ll take extra bases.”

Tofft said Grand plays for an ASA club team and they have been changing Grand from a right-handed hitter to hitting from the left side of the plate. Tofft said that is so she can become a slap hitter capable of beating out an infield hit with her speed.

Grand assessed her greatest strength in softball was her ability to play defense. Although her quickness makes her a good third baseman, her speed helps her cover a lot of territory in the outfield.

“(Broward) will definitely move me around in the outfield and I will have to play for my spot at third and just keep hitting,” Grand said. “Maybe I’ll get a spot at third base, but mainly in the outfield.”

Wherever she plays, she should help the Seahawks soar.

Zinzun and Martinez both agreed to sign on with William Jessup University in nearby Rocklin. Currently playing soccer for the Zebras, both were drawn to play for the Warriors for a number of reasons.

David Zinzun, Reese’s coach and father, said he took his daughter to a William Jessup soccer match when she was just 12 years old. While there, a childhood friend of the Lincoln head soccer coach offered to take his daughter on a tour of the Warrior’s facility.

“Ever since I had gone to my first soccer game there, I just fell in love with the school and the program,” said Reese Zinzun, who plans to study business at Jessup.

David Zinzun was the club competition soccer coach for both Reese and Martinez when they were young. He is now working to get them and the Zebras into the CIF section playoffs before the pair move onto the next level.

The coach said his daughter is a total team player. He said he stressed teamwork to her at an early age and she has carried that attitude since.

“Our teamwork and how hard we work in practice,” Reese Zinzun said, as to what it will take for the Zebras to make the playoffs. “I just always think of it as being my last game ever. It makes me push myself harder with my teamwork.”

Martinez is a solid defender and made a commitment to William Jessup after the Warriors coach saw her play. Martinez said she thinks her transition from high school to college should go well because of the time she has spent playing club ball. Martinez also began playing comp soccer under Coach Zinzun.

“I have been working with her ever since (she was) 6-7 years old,” David Zinzun said. “So we go way back, just like my daughter. I groomed them for their first 5-6 years in the competitive world.”

Martinez said she plans to major in kinesiology with the goal of becoming a physical therapist.

Like Reese Zinzun, Martinez feels the Zebras can make the playoffs. She feels the Lincoln team’s chemistry and ability to pass will help to put them in the postseason.

“I think what puts us over the top is our passing, Martinez said. “I think we can (make playoffs) if we really work hard and if we believe in ourselves that we can; I think we can make it.”

Martinez also expressed her appreciation to those who have helped her along with her career.

“I just want to thank my friends and family for helping me through this journey to where I am today,” she said.