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Since she was in third grade, Bianka Martinez has loved basketball.

For the past four years, Martinez translated her passion for hoops into a stellar career for the Harlingen High School Lady Cardinals. She finished her senior season on a team that advanced to the state Class 5-A regional quarterfinal, leading her team in scoring with 14.5 points per game and was second on her team in rebounds with 6.5.

Basketball was Martinez’s passion, she said. But faith was her top priority.

Martinez is an officer for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a youth group that meets to discuss faith, sports, and life, she said. Earlier this month, the South Texas Fellowship of Christian Athletes named Martinez its Female Athlete of Year, awarding her a $1,000 scholarship and a picture on the front page of Valley Christian Magazine.

“I believe FCA helps me to build my spiritual life,” she said in an interview for Harlingen Consolidated Independent’s School District’s December Student of the Month. “It helps me to remember that God is there through it all.”

On the court, Martinez has had a lot of support from her coach, Nora Zamarripa, she said.

“Coach teaches us life lessons through basketball so we have a strong sense of moral goodness,” Martinez said. “She wants us to take what we learn in the basketball program, and continue to display it the rest of our lives.”

Zamarripa, a legendary coach in the Rio Grande Valley recording her 700th career win this past season, has been like a second mother, Martinez said.

“I’ve learned from coach Zamarripa to never give up,” Martinez said. “No matter if you stumble, you must get up and keep going. I think it will translate to my life because that lesson has given me a strong mentality.”

After high school, Martinez plans to attend Texas State University to study biology, she said. After college, she wants to be a physicians assistant.

“The most interesting part of biology is learning about the human body,” she said. “It all has to work together for everything to work right.”

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