BY MASON PLUMMER | Lead Writer | Ball State Sports Link
Win the wait.
These are the three words that have been on the mind of Brandon Martin and the rest of the Ball State football team after it was announced their football season was cancelled.
Martin, a redshirt junior with eligibility through Fall 2021, is a leader on the team and has been a difference maker during rough times for the team on and off the field.
He has decided to approach a difficult situation of having no football season in the fall with a positive approach. Rather than be angry, he has turned his frustration into a mantra he and his teammates will carry with them into the spring — win the wait.
“In order to reach our end goal of winning a MAC championship, whenever that time may be, whether that be in the spring, whether that be in the fall at the end of the day, the goal is still the same,” Martin said. “The timeline very well may be different, but the goal is still going to be the same. We still want to be MAC Champions when everything is said and done.”
A three-year letter winner at Indy’s Lawrence North High School, Martin holds the school record for longest touchdown run (98 yards) and posted more than 100 tackles along with five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and two blocked field goals as a senior.
A redshirt at Ball State in 2016, Martin transitioned to a the linebacker position in 2017. That year, he played in all 12 games with six starts. He was voted the team’s Dave McClain Leadership Award Winner in 2018.
Perhaps no one knows better than Martin, what it is like to “win the wait”.
After coming off of a tremendous 2018 season where he played in all 12 games and was tied for fifth on the team with 66 tackles, Martin went down with a devastating injury in 2019.
In the first game of the season against Indiana at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Ball State linebacker suffered a shoulder injury which sidelined him for the entire campaign. He missed the team’s final 11 games and granted an eligibility extension from the NCAA.
Martin, however, stayed positive through it all and like he does with most things, saw the bright side of his rough situation.
“During the time I was off last season, I had an opportunity to learn a lot about myself and the game of football,” Martin said. “Watching things from the sideline is tough. It made me a better football player and it made me a better person.”
Through his recovery and physical therapy, Martin was working every single day to be healthy and ready to go for a 2020 Ball State football season. That is, until COVID-19 happened and threw a massive wrench in Martin’s plans.
“It goes down to us having a choice,” Martin said. “We have a choice and understand that it is difficult. It’s a difficult situation to be in, where we prepared for months and months to get ready for a season. We do have a choice and to be positive and understand that now we have even more of an opportunity to continue to take time to get better.”
Martin is anxiously awaiting a spring football season, but for now, he is using his extra time to make changes off the field as well.
In April, Martin was recognized by Ball State’s Multicultural Center with the 2020 Mary Etta Taylor-Rose Service Award. The award is presented annually to a student of color who has shown self-initiated service in a variety of agencies and has a consistent history of service to others within the Ball State or Muncie communities.
“I think as athletes, all of us have a responsibility,” Martin said about racial injustice. “We have people looking at us a lot and it’s important for us to use our platform to bring attention to and encourage change.
“At the end of the day, we all do have a role. If people are looking to create a change, I think one of the biggest things people can do is listen. We all have more to learn. If we get comfortable having uncomfortable conversations, that’s where we are going to continue to grow. I know a lot of times, where those conversations might be the most uncomfortable, those are the places we are going to grow the most.”
The star linebacker also served on Ball State’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) this past year as the group’s social media and marketing executive. Martin coined the hashtag, #NoShameInMyGame, which was a mental health initiative that encouraged athletes to speak about their mental health and know that it is okay to not be okay.
Mental health is something that continues to be a challenge for Martin, but he has found tips and tricks to help him be at his best day in and day out.
“I think it’s important to take in positive things every day and to understand that there are a lot of positives in a world where it can be so easy to be pessimistic,” Martin said. “When we look on our phones, we see a lot of bad news and it’s bothersome to see, but one thing that we can do is make sure that we’re taking time to ourselves and doing things that we enjoy doing.”
In consultation with the MAC, Ball State will explore potential opportunities for the 2021 Spring semester. The Conference will continue to consult with its Medical Advisory Panel and will monitor developments surrounding the pandemic with state and local health officials, the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization and governmental entities.