Photo by Rena Laverty
Playing hockey sometimes is not always at the front of Jacob Martin’s mind, rather it is his older brother Joseph, who is serving in the U.S. military.
“He is serving in the U.S. Army and has for five years now. He is in Afghanistan right now on his first tour of duty. He has been there for five months already,” he explained.
It should come as no surprise that Jacob was always looking up to his older brother. He wanted to be just like him, and that included playing hockey.
Photo by Rena Laverty
“I first started playing when I was 3 years old, back home in Eagle River [Wisconsin],” he said. “My brother played hockey. I really looked up to him and wanted to be like him. He had a huge influence on me, and he was always willing to help me out. Whenever he had his friends over, I would get to play with them, too.
“My brother could be a little rough. We had an outdoor rink that my dad would flood. We did have a little blood every now and then, but we always had fun playing.”
But Martin had plenty of other family members as well that really encouraged him in the sport.
“We would always play hockey with my mom’s side of the family,” Martin said. “My mom has eight brothers. They played hockey together and they would push me and help out. I have trained with mom’s brothers — Teddy and Tommy. In the summer, I would get up at 6 a.m. and go to the rink to skate with them.”
For the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder, playing defense just came natural. Of course, it was some more family influence that caused him to fall in love with the blue line.
“Tommy played defense and he was really good at it,” Martin said. “I ended up playing D because of him. I just fell back into it, but I really loved it. I did play a few games as a goalie for my Eagle River team because we needed someone.”
In addition to his brother and uncles, Martin has another person who has been with him throughout his hockey journey and that is his mom, Juliana.
“About six years ago, my mom and I moved to Madison [Wisconsin] for one year so I could play,” he said. “We then moved to Minnesota so I could play for Gentry Academy. It was really hard to be away from my dad and my brother.
“My mom lives here now so that is very nice. My parents have made huge sacrifices so I can play hockey. It’s really important but I can’t understand what they are going through to love me so I can play here. I hope that one day I can repay them for the sacrifices they have made.”
Of course, with making the jump to USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program in Plymouth, Michigan, it was a transition at first for Martin. Once he figured it out, it started to make more sense to him.
“It was really fast at first and the players were big and strong,” he said. “As a team, we really started to come together and get used to it and could compete. Now, we were figuring out and getting more comfortable on the ice and in the games.
“I’m a two-way defenseman, who is willing to do whatever it takes. I always want to be first to the puck and outwork guys to the corner. I’ve been learning how to use my body positioning as a defenseman to help the team. I still want to have an offensive game.”
With his brother serving in the military, it is probably understated just how much wearing the colors of his country mean to Martin, even if it is in a different light than his brother.
“It’s special; it’s crazy how everything is to put on the jersey for a game and represent our country,” he said. “Our U.S. military fights for our country every day, so we have the opportunity to wear the jersey. They make sacrifices so we can do what we love to do.”
Photo by Rena Laverty
His brother was able to catch one of his games before he left for overseas. It was a special moment for the brothers.
“He was able to come to one game before he left,” said Martin. “He was able to represent me by wearing a shirt with my name and number on it with glitter glue. It was pretty funny, but I was so happy to have him there.”
Despite the remainder of the USHL season being canceled, Martin knows that he will not be able to quit and will do whatever is necessary to be ready to go next year.
“I need to put in the hard work over the summer, training both on and off the ice. I know what I need to do to get better,” he said.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.