What I love about sports is that they are a great way to stay in shape, get my endorphins up, and relax my mind. But the best thing about sports for me is the opportunity to perform under pressure for your team – the euphoria that accompanies playing well when your teammates need you is something that is impossible to replicate in any other thing I’ve tried. I feel a similar euphoria when I do something difficult during an individual sport (such as climbing or skiing), but nothing tops the feeling of performing when everything is on the line.
My name is Dylan Martin, I’m 27, and I grew up in Boulder, Colorado (although I was born in Panama City, Panama). For my day job, I work as a generalist software engineer at Mercury, a digital banking start-up.
I chose Mercury for a few reasons. One, I think the company mission is really cool – we’re attempting to rebuild the user experience of start-up banking, which is an interesting challenge. To beat out the incumbent banks, we need to focus on building a product with an exceptional user experience that users enjoy enough to choose over an established bank. As somebody who likes thinking about products from the database layer all the way to the user experience layer, I find this type of work empowering and interesting. I also chose Mercury because our server code (i.e. backend) is written in Haskell, which is one of my favourite programming languages, but one that doesn’t have a track record for widespread industry adoption (Haskell is seen as an “academic language”, rather than an “industrial language”, like Python or Java). However, since Mercury is heavily invested in Haskell, we have an opportunity to make a strong case for Haskell being a great language for doing production software engineering, and I’m excited for the opportunity to push the envelope to get more people in the industry to think about using Haskell.
I’ve lived in Seattle for about 4 years, but I haven’t been here my whole life – I moved here as part of a promotion for my previous job at Qualtrics. Before Seattle, I lived in Utah for two years and Ireland for three months (while still working for Qualtrics). I love Seattle, and even though I’m a transplant, I consider this city home in many ways. I still have lots of love for Utah and Colorado (my original home state).
When I’m not working, I stay busy with a variety of things. Primarily, I enjoy writing (I journal daily and write a blog at https://dylanamartin.com/blog), reading (I curate a booklist at https://dylanamartin.com/reading), making music (I sing, and play piano and guitar), and staying active with various sports and outdoor activities (specifically, I like running, skiing, climbing, hiking, soccer, basketball, tennis, and Ultimate Frisbee).
Many of my athletic interests can be traced back to where and how I grew up. Growing up with an active family in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, I went hiking every summer and skiing every winter. My parents were also really supportive of my brother and me playing sports from a young age, and we basically played basketball, tennis, and soccer every year from youth up through high school and college (I never played varsity sports in college, but I played on the club Ultimate Frisbee team and intramural soccer and basketball teams).
My most competitive sport these days is Ultimate Frisbee; I play in a club men’s league in Seattle, and we take it pretty seriously – we practice together 3 times a week, work out together another 1-2 times, and travel across the West Coast for tournaments. Club Frisbee is the most competitive division of Ultimate Frisbee in the United States, and Seattle is an absolute hotbed – two of the 20 best teams (including the #1 team) in the country come from our city (my team is not one of them … yet).
Basketball and soccer I play more casually, though still competitively, on teams primarily consisting of my co-workers. When I worked at Qualtrics, I played on the company basketball team (Balltrics), and the company soccer team (Qualkicks). It was a blast!
For Skiing and Hiking, there are a lot of great locations in the United States to visit. My favourite places to visit for skiing are:
- Washington: Crystal, Stevens, Baker, Whistler
- Utah: Canyons, Park City, Cottonwood Canyons
- Colorado: Arapahoe Basin and Loveland
For hiking, my favourite places are:
- Washington: anywhere in the Cascades or the Olympics
- Utah: anywhere in the Cottonwood Canyons or in one of the 4 national parks down south
- Colorado: anywhere in Rocky Mountain National Park
Looking at my other activities, I also love music. While I feel like I came out of the womb singing, I think the first time I participated in music seriously was around age 5, when my parents started me on piano lessons – I haven’t really looked back since. I played classical piano up until high school, whereupon I switched over to playing more jazz piano, which is what I play today. I played jazz piano and sang a-cappella in college, and I also picked up guitar when I studied abroad in college – my host family were all guitarists and taught me how to play.
I’m influenced by literally more genres, musicians, and artists than I can count. Off the top of my head, I’d say my favourite musician right now is Jacob Collier – he’s a creative genius, and everything he makes I simply dig.
I mostly play jazz piano, but I have a pretty good ear for most pop songs and can play those after hearing them. On guitar, I don’t have the chops for anything other than basic pop/rock/country songs; I’m much more of an open-mic guitar player than a skilled musician on that instrument.
There’s a rush to performing live music that is similar to the rush that comes from playing sports; it’s all tied up in the euphoria that comes with performing under pressure. With music though, there’s a whole other level to it – when I play music, I have the opportunity to connect with my audience on a personal level for the duration of the song, which is a really special feeling.
I’m lucky to have a lot of great musical experiences to look back on, and some of my favourites were winning the choral contest in college back-to-back with my a-cappella group, singing at fancy holiday parties with the same group, and playing a tour of Seattle-area high schools with my college jazz band.
My future goal with Sports & Music is to just keep on playing! Athletics and music are such a key part of my identity that I can’t imagine ever giving them up.
I see a few similarities between my sports & music and my current occupation. Music and my work overlap in that success in either of those fields requires hard work and creativity. Sports and my work overlap in that success in either of those fields requires being a strong communicator, a good team player, and being willing to go the extra mile on occasion to ensure group success.
I definitely think my pastimes have been a benefit to my technological career. Music and sports have built up all of these overlapping skills that benefit my ability to work on interesting, challenging, and creative problems. Plus, they’ve been a necessary outlet for me when work gets too intense. For example, I could’ve studied music in college, but I chose to keep it as a hobby so that I could use it as a way to decompress from my studies without stressing about practicing enough. And I still go running or play sports every day to keep my brain sane enough to do my job well.
My advice to anyone interested in playing sports or music is to find joy in it. Being really motivated to get good at sports or music is definitely admirable and helpful; I don’t think you can really enjoy either if you don’t find intrinsic joy in what you’re doing. Drive can come and go, but joy is sustainable.