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For love of the game, and the badge

Hoquiam police officer and Grays Harbor Gulls midfielder Juan Martinez takes a shot during practice on Wednesday at Stewart Field. (Hasani Grayson | The Daily World)

Finding work-life balance has always been important to Juan Martinez.

As a police service officer with the Hoquiam Police Department, Martinez is a busy man. Luckily, his work in law enforcement does offer him an opportunity to do what he loves on the weekends — playing soccer.

When Martinez isn’t writing up police reports, he’s headed to Stewart Field to play midfield with Grays Harbor Gulls Football Club.

Martinez fell into law enforcement and soccer somewhat unexpectedly. His career in law enforcement began in 2012 when, a year removed from high school, he decided to work at Stafford Creek Corrections Center.

Martinez’s soccer career began similarly with him showing up to tryouts as a freshman at Hoquiam high School though he had never played organized soccer before. The beginning of his high school soccer career got off to a good start with him earning a spot on the varsity roster as a freshman and a trip to state the same year.

When the Gulls came into existence earlier this spring, Martinez took the opportunity to continue playing a game he loves and his department cooperated.

“Working at Hoquiam, they’re good about giving you time for your hobbies,” he said. “If you have something to do and you tell them ahead of time, my partners will cover my shift.”

About halfway through the season Martinez’s partners have become used to covering his shifts on gameday.

The 26 year-old is still getting used to the speed of play in the Western Washington Premier League.

In his days roaming the pitch as an outside midfielder while wearing a Grizzlies uniform, Martinez relied on his speed to put pressure on opposing defenses. Things have changed since the winger has left his high school physique behind. His workout regimen as a law enforcement officer involves a lot of weight training, giving Martinez more muscle than he had the last time he played organized soccer.

Martinez has adjusted his game to rely more on power and less on finesse and was a little disappointed his work in the weight room didn’t have a more positive impact on his cardio.

“I realized after a couple of shifts, ‘Whoa, I’m out of shape.’ I get a couple of sprints in and I’m done,” he said. “I thought weight training would help me cardio-wise but no, it’s a different animal.”

His offseason workout plan calls for more long-distance running as Martinez hopes to return to the team next season.

The coaching staff is looking forward to having him on the roster as well. Gulls assistant coach Ben Barene said he enjoys coaching someone who fully commits to what he does, on and off the field.

“He has a full time job but he can still make it out to practices and games while taking care of his family,” he said. “It’s great to see a person with dedication in multiple aspects who can really give 100 percent to whatever he’s doing at the time.”

Martinez plans on giving 100 percent to the department for the foreseeable future. He hopes to spend the next 20 years with the force before retiring. He may have retirement on his radar in the distant future, but for now he enjoys spending time with the people who cover his shift on game day.

“I enjoy it. I don’t sit there angry while I write reports. I’m there with the guys, laughing and joking whenever I’m working,” he said.

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