This article is the third interview from our Athlete of the Month (AOTM) series in partnership with TrueSport. To nominate an athlete or learn more, check out our AOTM headquarters.
There are not many 7-year-olds built with the persistence of an Olympic athlete, but Cru Martinson has it. It's the passion that drives a player more minor in stature than his counterparts across the finish line. Cru is a forward for NXT Level Hockey and the Jr. Ducks. Cru's passion and persistence made him an excellent nomination for SportsEngine and TrueSport's Athlete of the Month.
When it comes to competitive sport, Cru is especially unique in his approach—focusing more on the fun and learning process of playing sport rather than accolades and outcomes. Unlike many 'viral' athletes, he doesn't play because he has to; he plays because he wants to play.
"Being the youngest player ever to skate, train and play at the club comes with some pressure, but Cru's persistence and dedication to the sport of hockey makes him the best player he can be," says Meg Martinson, Cru's mother.
You may have seen Cru on NHL network, Press Sports, Whistle or Bardown performing one of his many trick shots. Cru puts in countless hours of training to master every play with Coach Mike Bickley, whom Cru started training with at just two years old. Off the ice, Cru boxes and focuses on core training to keep up with more senior players.
SportsEngine and TrueSport caught up with Cru, and Olympian, Professional Boxer, and TrueSport Athlete Ambassador Richard Torrez Jr., who spent time with Cru for an interview to swap stories about their time in sport.
You may ask yourself what these two athletes have in common, but the answer is more than you think. Both Cru and Richard face athletes twice their size and are fearless in competition. Both lean on family for support and allow their sports to help give them the character-building and life skills it takes to succeed. What do elite and youth athletes have in common? Dive into our interview to find out.
Who helps you through the tough days?
Richard Torrez, Jr.: I definitely owe a lot to my coach; my dad coached me when I was your (Cru's) age. He really helped shape me and my career in the ring and outside of the ring as well. (Cru) How has your coach helped you make it through a tough day?
Cru Martinson: Coach Mike helps me master my skills and helps pick me up, so I can play better next round.
RTJ: Yeah, having someone like that can really make a difference.
What’s the thing you enjoy most about your sport?
Richard: In boxing, I have traveled to 15 different countries with USA Boxing. I have to say it's one of the coolest things I have ever done. (Cru) what is one of the coolest things you've done in hockey?
Cru: I won my first Championship, and next month I will go to Chicago for hockey.
What do you tell your teammates on a bad day?
Cru: I tell them good job, don't worry! We'll get them next time.
Richard: That's awesome, man. It's fun being the underdog and silencing the haters. It's fun to prove people wrong, and you definitely have it.
Hitting it hard.
Richard: (To Cru) I know hockey is your favorite sport, but I also know you do some boxing outside the rink. Do you have a favorite punch or combination you like to throw?
Cru: The Uppercut.
Richard: Can you show me an Uppercut, man?
*Cru throws a punch*
When you're not working on boxing or hockey fundamentals, what skills are you hoping to master?
Meg Martinson (Cru's mom): He's usually in the backyard trying to master each of those. Coach Mike says not to worry about the tricks, but Cru is persistent.
Richard: That’s amazing, Cru. As athletes, we always need to push ourselves to keep grinding, and I know you got this.
Speed Round with Cru
- Favorite hockey memory? When I got the winning goal
- Favorite hockey team? The Las Vegas Golden Knights
- Favorite athlete/team? Jonathan Marchessault #81 (Las Vegas Golden Knights)
- Go-to pre-game snack/post-game treat? Cheese Croissant
- Favorite pump-up song? Rockstar by Post Malone
- Who picks you back up when you're down? My mom