Photo by Jeff Vorva
St. Laurence quarterback Alex Martinez looks over a banner presented to him after Friday night’s win over Aurora Christian while coach Harold Blackmon looks on. Martinez’s father, Rich, died the day before.
Thursday morning started out pretty well for St. Laurence senior Alex Martinez.
The football team’s quarterback was a little more than 24 hours away from trying to lead his team to a fifth victory, which would likely put the Vikings into the playoffs. He was featured on the sports front page of a daily newspaper, sharing the page with the Cubs big win over Pittsburgh.
Life was really good for Martinez.
Then came the afternoon.
During practice, he found out his father, Rich, suddenly died at age 48 causing Alex to tweet “My heart is broken into a million pieces.”
On Friday, his friends, classmates and teammates tried to mend some of that broken heart.
Martinez said there was no doubt he was going to play Friday night and he threw for four touchdowns and ran for another as the Vikings beat Aurora Christian, 63-24 in Aurora.
After the game, coach Harold Blackmon gave a speech and had Martinez stand up. The signalcaller was presented with an autographed ‘W’ banner which was made popular by the Cubs.
“That was great for them to do that,” Martinez said.
Blackmon said the banner was one of the players’ ideas.
“Our kids really embrace family,” the coach said. “We all grieve with Alex. In the pregame speech we said for a few hours we wanted to get him to normalcy and doing something that’s fun. Alex’s dad loves the Cubs so they decided to give him a banner. We take care of our own.’’
Martinez said there was no doubt he was going to play in this game.
“As soon as I heard the news, I heard people say ‘you should be with your family’ and ‘you shouldn’t play.’ He would have not wanted that. If I would have even thought about not playing he would not have liked that at all.’’
Before the game, players formed a circle in the middle of the field and prayed for the Martinez family.
“That was a very class move by Aurora Christian,” Blackmon said.
Rich was a Chicago fireman and members of his house made the trip to Kane County to support the family.
Martinez said he learned a lot of perspective in a short amount of time.
“Football is just a game at the end of the day,” Martinez said. “It helped take my mind off of it for two hours. But the game is over and it goes right back to it.’’