Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker and 2002 Super Bowl champion Martín Gramática played soccer as a child in his home country of Argentina before moving to the United States at the age of 9. The former soccer player picked up the game of football as a high school senior at LaBelle High School in Fort Myers, and the rest is history.
Gramática has coached youth soccer for over 10 years now. In March last year, he decided to join the West Florida Flames organization, coaching at the East Lake campus.
Gramática loves the family atmosphere that the organization has created, where the athletes are the number one priority and the focus is not only to help the players develop on the soccer field but become better people as well. This year, he is coaching the U19 boys team and is helping out with the U11 girls.
The Carrollwood resident said that after he retired from football, his goal was to spend as much time as he could with his family. Soccer and the love of sports has afforded him the opportunity to bond with his children further. He coaches his son on the boys team and his daughter on the girls team.
Gramática has implemented coaching philosophies that he’s learned from two of his legendary football hall of fame coaches, former Bucs head coach Tony Dungy and former Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder. He said that they were the ultimate role models and they always cared more about their players as people rather than as athletes. He also said that the West Florida Flames organization doesn’t treat its players as dollar signs like some other clubs do.
The soccer coach said that the most rewarding part of coaching is watching the kids grow on and off the field.
“There are some kids that I’ve coached for over eight years, and just to see their growth, their physical development from baby faces to now as almost grown adults, is crazy when I look back at pictures,” said Gramática. “I’m not the tallest guy in the picture anymore, let’s put it that way,” he joked.
Nicknamed ‘Automatica’ because of his high field goal percentage, the former placekicker still has a love for the sport of football. He is currently the Bucs Spanish radio color commentator. Before soccer practice, he helps teach some of his players that are interested in football how to kick. He coached three kids last summer that are now playing D-1 football.
He said he’s seeing a trend where soccer players try their hand at football as kickers and punters because, among several other factors, it’s easier for them to get a full-ride scholarship for football rather that soccer because an all-men’s sport, like football, gets more funding than a Title IX sport, such as soccer, that splits the funding between the men and women’s programs. He said it’s rare that he sees an athlete play both sports because they are both demanding and require full-time commitments in order to reach the next level.
Gramática does a lot of charity work in the Tampa area. He founded the Gramatica Family Foundation that builds homes for combat-wounded military veterans. His players do volunteer work to help with these homes.
“It’s very rewarding for me,” said Gramática. “I always say that I owe that all to coach Dungy. He taught us how to do charity work, he taught us how to put the community first, and I always appreciated that message from him.”
Gramática said that he doesn’t know what the future holds for him when it comes to coaching, but he may pursue it at a higher level when his kids are grown up and have moved out of the house. For now, he loves coaching with West Florida Flames and is content on spending time with his kids and watching them grow up.