Martinas Geben, class of 2014, came to St. Maria Goretti from Lithuania in 2011. A 3-year contributor to the boys basketball team, Geben was Herald-Mail County Player of the Year and Baltimore Catholic League Player of the Year as a junior. His senior year, the team had an overall record of 21-15, a BCL record of 5-10, and an IPSL Record of 2-2, finishing 2nd.
As a senior, Geben committed to play Division I basketball at Notre Dame University, among various offers from other Division I teams.
Following Notre Dame’s Elite Eight loss this year to North Carolina, Coach Mike Brey called Geben into his office. (From IndyStar) Brey told Geben, “…’You’re our starting big guy and you need to carry yourself like that. You don’t have to do a whole lot, you’ve got veterans around you. But we’re very invested in you.’” Coach Brey continued, “I left him with this line, because you know Martin, he likes American slang and sayings. I said, ‘The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.’ He came back two days later and said, ‘That’s a real good one, coach. Let’s keep moving forward.’ ”
Geben has been working hard to take on this new role. From the foul line, Geben was 10-10 last year and the Fighting Irish will look to him for his consistency and his ability to create open shots as a screener and rebounder. Geben comments, (From IndyStar) “I’ll be the dirty-work guy who’s going to be defending down low and rebounding and just trying to help my teammates play better.”
Former Goretti boys basketball coach and Geben’s coach, Amrit Rayfield, comments that this is no surprise to him. Geben’s time at Goretti was marked not just by his play on the court, but by the person he was off of it.
Coach Rayfield comments, “Martin, from the time he arrived at St. Maria Goretti, embraced the Goretti atmosphere and community as well as the community embraced him. Spiritually, academically, socially, and then, of course, athletically, Martin embraced all these areas. In that transition, not only coming from a different country, but with the rigor of course loads and expectations, it was a difficult transition. But for him, it was seamless. And I think that says a lot about his character. It was change, but he was able to adapt. He was a true ambassador for St. Maria Goretti. He came here prepared and that says a lot about his family and upbringing of his work ethic. He worked extremely hard as a student and as an athlete.”
When Martin arrived at Goretti, he was around 6’7″ and 195 lbs., but as a senior grew to 6’9″ and 235 lbs. His senior year, the team started their season undefeated. His coach continues, “He worked extremely hard as a student and as an athlete. As a coach, he’s the picture perfect model of who you’d want as a leader. It helped change the culture of our basketball program because he was so invested in all the other things that went along with it. He’d abide by the rules and when there’s someone walking around as a senior at that stature, everyone else falls into place.”
Rayfield finishes, “(He’s) a coach, a teacher, an administrator’s dream. Truly. He’s walking the walk. He prepared himself to get to an institution like that because of the time he put into his academics, and then he plays basketball on top of it.”
Karolina Geben, Martin’s sister, is currently a junior at Goretti. His family moved to Hagerstown, MD from Lithuania in 2014.
Read more from IndyStar here.