Jasmine Martinez was on her way home from the Jersey Shore on July 2nd when she received an unexpected call that made her day. The person on the other line was Dan Rudd, director of hockey programs at Ed Snider Youth Hockey & Education. He called to tell the Neumann University senior that she had been selected to assist the Flyers in announcing their first-round pick (No. 5 overall) in the 2022 NHL draft in Montréal.
With this news, Jasmine and her mother Jennifer embark on a all-expenses-paid journey to join the Flyers in Montreal. Martinez will be the only woman representing the Flyers on the draft podium on Thursday.
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“I had absolutely no idea this was happening,” Martinez said. “I was shocked, I didn’t believe what I heard. I had to hear it again because I just didn’t believe that came out, it was a really exciting moment.”
Martinez, 21, is a graduate of Ed Snider Youth Hockey & Education, a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 by former Flyers founder and owner Ed Snider. Ed Snider Youth Hockey & Education provides underserved children in Philadelphia and Camden neighborhoods with an opportunity to learn how to play hockey with the goal of teaching life lessons through the sport.
Valerie Camillo, the Flyers’ president of business operations and a member of the board of directors of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, saw the NHL draft as an opportunity to bring greater awareness to youth hockey organizations in the Philadelphia area.
When she found out that the Flyers could include outside involvement in their selection, Camillo immediately thought that Ed Snider Youth Hockey & Education would be the perfect organization to shine a light on them on an international level.
“We could help them raise awareness about their mission and their work,” Camillo said. “It can help them raise funds, and it could also inspire children who are currently in the program or alumni of the program.”
The next step was finding the right person to represent the program and flyers in the design. Camillo and Scott Tharp, the president of Ed Snider Youth Hockey & Education, took a call and decided there was one person who stood out – Martinez.
She has been involved in the organization since she was seven years old. During that time, the Northeastern U12 girls team have both played and trained.
“[Martinez] is just such an amazing and inspiring young woman,” said Camillo. “She does more than just teach people how to play the game or encourage them.”
Growing up, Martinez was introduced to hockey at a young age and enjoyed watching former Flyers winger Daniel Brière.
Her older brother and uncle were also part of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey & Education program, which greatly facilitated their involvement. In addition to learning the game, Martinez was drawn to how the program held its athletes accountable off the ice.
“That [was what] kind of attracted me…the discipline,” Martinez said. “I had to do all my school homework that night before I got on the ice, so I went from school to the rink to do my homework, and as soon as I was done…I went onto the ice for practice.” ”
In addition to partnering with the Flyers, the organization has also provided Martinez with experiences to travel and meet various athletes outside of hockey. At an event with the girls’ ice hockey team, she traveled to a tennis game and watched Serena Williams compete.
“That was something that really stuck in my mind,” Martinez said. “I’ve always been learning, whether it’s playing hockey or being positive about myself, there’s always a learning element behind everything.”
While she meddled with other aspects of the game, like empowering the younger girls as a coach, Martinez continued her own hockey career in college.
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She received a Snider Goals & Assists scholarship, which includes full tuition, room and board. After originally visiting West Chester, Martinez joined Neumann to study sports management and play for the Division III team.
“Without Snider, I wouldn’t have a college education,” Martinez said. “I wouldn’t play hockey today, still doing something I love so I always look back and just appreciate all the support they’ve had for me.”
While Martinez is packed and ready to leave on Thursday morning, she can’t help but feel anxious and excited. She hopes this opportunity will encourage others to pursue their passions, especially women athletes, and represents the organization that has helped her build that confidence.
“Kids have dreams,” Martinez said. “You have to encourage kids to keep pursuing those dreams so they actually pursue them, because a lot of times people shoot kids and say they can’t do it. [At] Snider…we’re the people who tell them they can.”