Other stories filed under Around Campus
Kicking history into new heights
Junior George “JJ” Martinez becomes first male Farmerette
May 18, 2017
A yawn escapes his lips and his hands follow the motion he knows so well. Pens, pencils, ribbons and paints: it’s a run of the mill purchase that takes place at a cash register inside the Michael’s craft store off of Stemmons Freeway every day. A 5-foot-6 Hispanic boy stands behind the counter in the store that supplies one of his many art addictions. Colors, shapes and dance moves flood his mind while he quietly scans the various items. The rhythm follows him throughout his chores and something as simple as mopping the floor becomes a fully choreographed routine. Despite this mundane appearance, junior George “JJ” Martinez is paving the way for young boys aspiring to be a part of a female dominated school tradition.
“Before [dance] I hadn’t done anything for the school and suddenly I’m doing this big thing,” Martinez said. “Not trying to toot my own horn, [but] now I’m the next big thing and it makes me feel really good doing something for the school and I love doing it.”
At the beginning of his sophomore year, Martinez was accidentally put into child development but after realizing he didn’t want to be there he enrolled in dance one. While in the dance one course he quickly adapted to the setting and formed relationships with girls who hoped to become Farmerettes. They encouraged him to audition for the team alongside them when tryouts came along.
After many hours filled with stretching and late night practices, Martinez earned a spot on the Diamonds junior varsity dance team for the 2016-2017 school year. This was a feat on its own, but it wouldn’t stop there.
As a young kid, Martinez was introduced to the basic principles of art; which grew into a passion that would stick with him throughout his high school career.
“I was really into crafts as a kid,” Martinez said. “It was mostly from my grandma because when everyone was at work or school, I would be with my grandma and [we would] make little crafts. ”
Martinez has taken an art class every school year. In elementary school art was required, but once middle school hit he decided to continue taking art classes. That decision carried over to high school and Martinez hopes to eventually take AP art which is the final art course available.
Art is now his passion and he plans to pursue it after high school, even though the specific details have not been figured out yet.
“I just deeply love art, and it’s my favorite thing to do…really the only thing I can imagine myself doing [is] just the arts,” Martinez said. “I hate any academics pretty much, I can only see myself doing art in the future.”
So when the opportunity to express his love for art arose in a new form he jumped at the chance. After swiftly taking up dance one, he started becoming in tune with the new outlet.
His feet began to learn the steps and his arms followed the movements until they became a habit. From there they started to take on a life of their own, showcasing Martinez’s talent for art.
“[Dance] is an art form,” Martinez said. “How [you] make your body move is just like how you use a paintbrush, it’s just technique and how you express yourself.”
Gradually his skills transformed themselves from robotic to fluid movements and he found himself progressing and taking part in unfamiliar territory for his gender.
“I have only been dancing for a year and half and I didn’t have any [dance moves] down,” Martinez said. “I looked like I was like paralyzed or something. But my dance director, Ms. Sheeran, told me to be stretching at home a lot. People realized I was putting in twice the work stretching at home, and I felt accomplished.”
Martinez felt indirect pressure from his peers to move up from the JV team when tryouts came around again. His quick progression of his skills allowed him to become a possible candidate for the varsity team but he still had his own doubts.
“I felt like there was a lot of pressure on me and I was worried about my school [work] and everything,” Martinez said. “But it was [because] of people expecting me to be on the team and I wasn’t totally confident about myself.”
But quickly his friends began encouraging him to try out for the squad. With nothing to lose and his goals only a high kick away, he took the chance and bet on himself.
“[My friends] have been really supportive,” Martinez said. “They love what I do and I love them because they’re great people.”
Countless hours passed full of him shaking and twirling his body; he needed to prove he was worth it, so he pushed his body to its limits so that he could earn the spot he desperately wanted.
The camps, practices and pep talks had all led up to these moments. It was his time to shine.
Five grueling days passed, hours flew by and his muscles began to ache. Tryouts were over, and after the last few groups were done it was time for Martinez to head home and wait for the news.
He had to wait until midnight for his results.The clock started winding down.
The time was here, it was midnight and the results were in. His fingers pressed the buttons to find the page that was decorated with the new names of the ‘16 -‘17 Farmerettes. His fingers scrolled until there it was.
His name, JJ Martinez, under the word Farmerette. He had done it.
“I was on Twitter [the] night [he made varsity] and the student body was so supportive and so excited,” assistant director Kimberly Sheeran said. “There were alumni tweeting JJ that they’re so excited to see him on the field with the Farmerettes and that change was happening.”
Not only was there an abundance of support poured out online, but many of Martinez’s peers verbally shared their pride and joy with him.
“I’m really proud of him and I think it’s really cool that he’s the first boy in history to be a Farmerette,” junior Elizabeth Asilo said. “He’s really involved, he works hard and he’s made a ton of progress since sophomore year when he started in dance one.”
Despite his sudden fame, Martinez remains humble and continues with his same goal; he knows there are still more steps to be taken.
“It’s just really sweet overall how everything worked out,” Martinez said. “[A] big support is the school. When I tweeted about it, [the tweet] got hundreds of retweets and likes and my whole team and random people I didn’t even know were congratulating me and it made me feel good. If I didn’t have that I would be so scared to do anything.”
In a couple of months, he will find himself standing in front of a screaming crowd eagerly awaiting an exciting performance from Martinez and the gang of glistening girls surrounding him.
His shoulders will shake up and down from his pre-performance jitters, and his mind will attempt to calm his body so he can deliver a performance of a lifetime.
“Just being on the stage or on the field [is] exhilarating because people are like ‘Oh there’s a boy’ and that’s what I live for,” Martinez said. “It‘s very surreal. I’m excited [to be] a part of everything.”
Since the start of his dance career that began during his sophomore year, Martinez has found he can express himself through dance and inspire others.
“Dance overall is an art form and so far at this school it’s been [dominated by] girls,” Martinez said. “I’m showing that boys can do it to because I want to be an inspiration to people.”
His dance is something that supplies a sort of euphoria; it transforms him into the confident person he strives to be.
“The feeling of once you really start getting into [dance] is really like a high almost,” Martinez said. “Some days you’re not feeling it, other days [you’re like] ‘Wow look at this, look what I can do, look at this and that.’ Every day you’re learning something new about your body and yourself and what you can do.”
Martinez hopes to continue breaking down the barriers that stand in his way and inspire more historical changes.
“Obviously boys in dance is not prevalent here,” Martinez said. “It’s really that whole wall breaking [thing], showing that our society and everything we define into categories like who can do what is not totally true. [Especially] down here where everyone is scared to break those barriers. I’m just glad I can do something to help that situation.”