Rochester Hills’ Martinez fulfills promise to parents
Alec Martinez is a nine-season NHL veteran with more than 400 NHL games, two Stanley Cups and a Cup-winning goal to his credit.
Any set of parents would be proud of those accomplishments. And the parents of the 30-year-old Los Angeles Kings defenseman, who is from Rochester Hills, certainly are. After all, he helped the Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, and he scored the Cup-winning goal in Game 5 of the 2014 Cup Final against the New York Rangers in double overtime.
But there was just one more thing Frank and Lynne Martinez wanted for their son: To get a college degree.
Martinez attended Miami (Ohio) University, where he played for three seasons – 2005-06 to 2007-08 –before signing with Los Angeles. The Kings took him in the fourth round of the 2007 NHL Draft with the 95th overall pick.
When he left school to turn pro, he promised his parents that he would get his degree.
Well, it took 10 years, but Martinez has finally made good on that pledge.
And it was a surprise for Frank and Lynne, because Alec had been secretly taking classes.
“For me, the best thing is he followed through on his promise. That really impressed me,” Lynne told NHL.com. “You tell somebody you're going to do something, you better do it. That's how we raised him.”
Martinez joked about his academic journey.
"Lots of people go to school for 13 years," he said. "… They're called doctors."
At first, he went back to the Miami campus to take classes, but it became more difficult when the Kings had deep Stanley Cup playoff runs.
So he finished his studies online. The key was keeping it a secret from his parents.
“These past two and a half years, he’s been taking classes, and we didn’t have a clue,” Frank said.
He and Lynne had teased him his younger sister, Maria, 24, had her undergraduate degree and a master’s in journalism.
But Martinez got the last laugh on when his parents visited him last Thanksgiving in Hermosa Beach, Calif.
He stood up to address the family.
"I didn't know what he was going to say," Lynne said. "He thanked everyone for coming. I knew it was serious.”
Martinez had made a pseudo diploma even though he hadn't graduated yet because he hadn’t taken his final. (He eventually passed.)
"I found a certificate degree template and I just plugged in Miami University and changed some colors so it was red and white," he said. "I put in, 'Alec Martinez, Bachelor of Science in Accounting.'
Then he put it in a shoebox and wrapped it.
"They were completely shocked," he said.
Said his mom: "I was overjoyed. I told him not to buy me a Christmas present because that was present enough. We were just thrilled because we had wanted him to do this."
Getting the diploma wasn’t easy.
"I mean, it was certainly difficult for me," Martinez said. "I'm glad it's behind me.
"And I never have to go to school ever again."