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Former Brave Cheyenne Marmolejo embodied the spirit of Lompoc

Former Brave Cheyenne Marmolejo embodied the spirit of Lompoc

Something special happens when a team or athlete embodies their community. 

There were the rough-and-tumble Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s, with their Steel Curtain, or the Dallas Cowboys calling themselves America's Team.

The Showtime Lakers in the 1980s and 90s fit in perfectly with Los Angeles. The Broad Street Bullies embodied Philadelphia.

One Central Coast athlete certainly personified her team and community. That would be Lompoc High grad Cheyenne Marmolejo.

The former Brave, who graduated in 2017, was a softball and basketball standout at Lompoc High. Marmolejo was also a contributor on the volleyball team at LHS.

When the Times and Record conducted its Player of the Decade contest for girls basketball, compiling 16 nominees from the area, Marmolejo was the first player out, narrowly missing inclusion in the competition.

Top story of 2020: The day the sports world stood still

That should not take any luster away from her stellar and inspiring career on the hardwood at LHS. (Marmolejo may still earn a nomination into the upcoming softball Player of the Decade competition.)

Marmolejo embodied the Lompoc High community with her blue collar play on the basketball court. The 5-foot-8 guard was a rugged and relentless defender who sparked the Braves' '32 minutes of Hell' approach to games.

“Ever since I was young, I was always stressed to play defense,” Marmolejo once told former Record reporter Lorenzo J. Reyna. “My role is to defend the top player — and I love and understand that role.”

Marmolejo broke into the starting rotation at Lompoc as a freshman and ended up playing 102 games over four seasons. How many steals and blocks did she log, according to the Braves' own stats, during that time? 

Well, the numbers are staggering. She was credited with 394 steals and 175 blocks in those four seasons, averaging nearly four steals a game and 1.7 blocks. 

Marmolejo, though, was also a reliable scorer. She averaged 10.1 points during her senior season and finished her career with a 8.3 per game average, scoring 844 points. 

Her final career averages: 8.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 3.9 steals and 1.7 blocks per game. 

As is tradition, the Times' is recapturing those special moments, some of which even occurred amid the pandemic. Before sports were shut down in March, area high school teams made deep playoff runs, with a few capturing CIF titles. Others celebrated their first-ever league championships. There were also coaching changes and new league alignments. Sadly, the Central Coast sports scene also lost some important figures. 

Marmolejo did this while helping raise Lompoc to new heights. The Braves went 80-29 during her four years with the program, including a 64-18 run over the final three seasons. Lompoc went 38-4 in Los Padres League games over those final three seasons and a 46-8 mark overall.

The Braves made the CIF Southern Section semifinals in 2016, where they narrowly lost to Duarte 43-42 when Marmolejo was a junior. 

Lompoc and Cabrillo split the LPL title in Marmolejo's sophomore and junior seasons.

Marmolejo was voted the Northern Santa Barbara County Female Athlete of the Year in 2017 and was chosen to give the Brave Pride speech at graduation.

“I’m here to tell everyone that you can overcome anything,” Marmolejo said then.

Marmolejo was expelled from her middle school after a fight in the seventh grade, and was forced to attend a nontraditional support school for six months.

She went on to compile a 3.8 GPA in high school, served as vice president of her class and intended to pursue a nursing career by attending Fresno State.

“Do not let one mistake define who you are, because I didn’t,” she said in 2017. “Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t, because believe me, you can. My dad always tells me, ‘So what, you struck out. It’s what you do afterwards that counts.’”

Marmolejo's career at Lompoc is being highlighted as part of "The Other Girls" series, which aims to feature standout players who narrowly missed out on a Player of the Decade nomination or were overlooked during their prep careers. Submissions for athletes to be featured as part of the series can be sent to the author.

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