Lindsey Martin, Zain Ahmed and Hailey Freeman all had the goal to play sports for a four-year university upon graduating from Sobrato High this year. The trio will get that opportunity: Martin at Lehigh University, a Division I softball program in Pennsylvania; Ahmed at Princeton playing squash; and Freeman at Sonoma State playing soccer as a preferred walk-on.
Martin and Ahmed had a ceremonial letter of intent signing at Sobrato on May 26 in front of their closest family members and friends.
“I couldn’t have done it without all my friends, teammates and family,” said Martin, a volleyball and softball standout. “They always had my back and supported me.”
Martin thanked her parents, in particular, for all the sacrifices they made over the years, whether it was driving her to a club softball practice in Stockton or flying to different locations along the West Coast for recruiting camps. Her former club coach at Sorcerer, Pete Aguayo, connected Martin to the Lehigh coach.
“Pete is super well known in the softball world and has a lot of connections,” Martin said. “He’s helped a lot of girls get recruited to colleges, and I’m forever indebted to him.”
Martin plans on majoring in civil engineering at Lehigh, which is known for having a strong engineering program. A versatile talent, Martin was a force as a middle blocker on the volleyball team and played several different positions for the softball squad, including pitcher.
“I was already looking at Lehigh so when softball came into the equation, it was a no-brainer,” she said. “It’s where I want to be and the perfect fit.”
In conversations with the Lehigh coaching staff, Martin said they liked how “I’m very mental with the game and that I’m also aggressive and talkative on the field.”
When Ahmed suits up to play squash at Princeton, there is little doubt he’ll put himself in rarefied air as only a handful of student-athletes from the South County and San Benito County area—ever—to earn a spot to play on one of the best college squash teams in the nation. Princeton finished No. 4 the last time the collegiate season was contested, in the 2019-2020 season.
Squash is popular on the East Coast, and Ahmed lived in Long Island for a brief period while he was in elementary school. He took up the sport at age 6, started traveling for tournaments at 9 and rose up the national rankings to become the top-ranked 17U player two years ago.
He has represented team USA in the British Junior Open, was one of only two boys from California to earn All American status last season and started receiving offers after playing in a high-profile national tournament after his sophomore year. Ahmed said the Princeton coach liked his physical skills and sportsmanship, noting he’s got plenty of potential to unearth to take his game to a higher level.
“Princeton was always my first choice, and when I realized I had a real chance to play there, it was exciting,” Ahmed said.
Freeman was already set on attending Sonoma State when she got in contact with the women’s soccer coach last month. After some conversations, Freeman said she made a verbal commitment on May 15 to play for the Division II program as a preferred walk-on.
“I want to be part of a program that will push me to be my best,” said Freeman, who had her triplet sisters Ashley and Taylor playing alongside her on Sobrato this past season. “Sonoma is a great program and I can’t tell you how excited I am to have the opportunity to play there. … I would like to thank my parents, sisters, friends, teammates and coaches for all of their love and support. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Freeman routinely displayed her cannon for a leg during her Sobrato career, highlighted by a goal she scored from 39 yards out during the run of play in a game against Santa Teresa during her junior season. A midfielder and defender, Freeman made pinpoint passes and was excellent at tracking long balls, one-touching it to control it and then unleashing shots on a moment’s notice.
Freeman and her sisters pushed each other to be their best both academically and athletically. Hailey carried a 4.3 GPA and Ashley ranked even higher in the class of 2021.
“We all took AP classes and would ask each other how the other did on their tests,” Hailey said. “It’s always been pretty competitive between the three of us.”
Ashley will attend Cal Poly and Taylor has made one of UNLV’s dance teams, Hailey said. Their last game together was an emotional one, signifying the end of a long chapter for the triplets.
“It was really fun to play with them all these years and make memories,” Hailey said. “The last game was really sentimental, and we were able to joke and laugh and have a special moment.”