---- — By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
When she first received the email earlier this month, Shamokin junior goalie Brianna Martin thought that there was no way it could be real.
A chance to play on a United States under-19 women's soccer team internationally next summer in Europe? Nah, no way it could be real.
But Martin checked the website and then this past Tuesday, Nov. 19, that doubt turned into a realization when Martin got another email: yes, she was on the team.
"I got pretty excited," the junior said.
And understandably so. Martin was selected to play on a United States U-19 squad next summer in San Marino, Italy, for the San Marino Cup.
The Shamokin junior wasn't positive just how she got nominated, but regardless, she's glad she is. To be on a team in the San Marino Cup tournament, a player must be named all-state, all-conference or be recommended by a coach. Martin was neither all-state nor all-conference this past season with the Indians, who finished 5-13.
According to the San Marino Cup website, it is the largest Italian youth tournament for boys and girls. It features 75 teams from 18 various countries and more than 2,000 participants. Boys aged 12 through 19 in five different categories and girls at least 14-years-old in three categories will compete in the San Marino Cup tournament.
The tournament is scheduled July 6-11 and all games will be played on 12 grass and artificial turf fields in the Republic of San Marino and Adriatic Coast.
It'll be the first type of international tournament in which Martin will be playing.
"I'm excited, but kind of nervous too," she said.
Official teams for the 2014 tournament won't be revealed online until June 25, according to the tournament's website.
According to San Marino Cup rules, only a maximum of 24 players can be listed per team, with the exception of the Category A team -- boys born in at least 2003 -- and every level has a maximum of seven substitutions that are allowed per team per game.
Playing against some of the best players Europe will only benefit Martin as she enters her senior year with the Shamokin Indians after the tournament concludes.
"It's going to help me a lot seeing playing time and playing with really good athletes," Martin said. "I've been putting a lot of work in this past year, but I'm still kind of nervous."
Shamokin allowed 44 goals through 18 games this past season. For Martin, being a goalie is a position she's somewhat come to love over the years since she started playing when she was just eight.
"I was an attacker at first and no one on our (AYSO) team wanted to play goalie, so (coach Bob Cchecci) asked me to try and ever since then, I've liked doing it," Martin said.
The San Marino Cup does not pay for travel expenses to get to Italy and according to Martin, the trip will cost approximately $4,000. Luckily for Martin, it seems the community in Shamokin has come together to try to help her family reach that goal to be able to partake in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The family also is hoping to get a stand set up during the Shamokin Christmas parade to help raise funds as well.
Any individuals or businesses that would like to donate money to the Martin family to help with expenses is encouraged to contact Martin's father, Curt, at 570-205-1653.