This afternoon, the greatest soccer player ever to knock in a goal in Rock Hill, Enzo Martinez, leads his University of North Carolina squad against Charlotte's 49ers in national championship game.
Martinez will then rush back to UNC with his teammates and take final exams. The rushing will not cease, as Martinez and his girlfriend, Holly Rankin, will for the third consecutive year host a charity soccer tournament Saturday here in Rock Hill, to raise money for the Children's Attention Home and other charities.
"Rock Hill, and soccer, have been so good to me, I want to do what I can to help others as people have helped me," Martinez said Saturday by telephone from Alabama, site of the national finals.
Saturday is the third year for the soccer fundraiser, called "Kicking4aCause." Teams of up to eight players compete in tournaments for all expertise levels and age groups. This year, it will be at the Indoor Soccer City on Dave Lyle Boulevard, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The event also will collect new and gently used toys to give to needy children for Christmas.
"What we try to do is use soccer, the sport that is so important to Enzo and so many others - me, too - and through a fun day raise money at a time of year when it is really needed," said Rankin, Martinez's girlfriend of four years who attends the College of Charleston.
Martinez will spend the day at the charity event, signing autographs and helping with the games. Dozens of volunteers have helped the duo organize the event while both are away at college.
But first, Rankin has to get to Hoover, Ala. - site of today's final game - to watch Martinez play. She left Saturday afternoon for the almost 500-mile journey, then will drive straight back to Charleston for exams after the game.
"Your boyfriend doesn't play in the national championship every day," Rankin said.
Martinez said Saturday he was trying to rest for the biggest game of his life, and get in some study time. The two-time All American, who came to Rock Hill from Uruguay at age 10 and led Northwestern High School to three state championships, is the leading goal scorer in South Carolina high school history.
"This is the game you spend your whole life waiting for," Martinez said. "First the game, then the exams. My last exam is Friday. But I will be home in time for the soccer charity tournament. I wouldn't miss it."
Want to go?
WHAT: "Kicking4aCause" charity soccer tournament, featuring University of North Carolina All-American midfielder and former Northwestern standout Enzo Martinez
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Indoor Soccer City, 1453 Dave Lyle Blvd., Rock Hill.
PLAYERS: Registration is $80 per team of at least six players.
SPECTATORS: Entry for spectators is $5, with $3 raffle tickets available for an iPad and other prizes.
INFORMATION: Email Holly Rankin at email@example.com