Head coach Aaron Paul waited until the end of the 2021 Morgan County soccer banquet on May 17 to make a special announcement.
Paul called Jacob Martin to the platform, put his arm around him and declared Martin as the inaugural ‘Jacob Strong’ Award recipient.
The award made Martin’s day 10 times better, he said.
“It means a lot to me,” Martin said. “I am very appreciative to have a coach, team and community support me so much and to have my own award.”
This wasn’t the first time Morgan County soccer celebrated Martin, though.
The term ‘Jacob Strong’ came after it was revealed that Martin was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma in October 2020.
Since the original diagnosis, Martin had endured 12 rounds of chemotherapy.
Morgan County celebrated Martin’s final chemo treatment with a ‘Jacob Strong’ night on March 30 - a night where Martin scored a hat trick.
Then, on May 4, Martin heard the news that he was cancer-free. That news came on the same day of the Morgan County boys soccer team dinner.
So, Paul and the rest of the players left the team dinner, hopped on a bus and surprised Martin when he returned home from the hospital.
Martin ran up to his teammates as they engulfed him with a team hug on the front lawn.
He was celebrating a momentous occasion with his teammates once again.
Throughout these past eight months, the Morgan County soccer team has always been there for Martin.
All of the celebrations came easy, too, because of what Martin demonstrated: strength. Despite everything Martin went through, he only missed a few practices and one game.
Martin’s strength made Paul’s decision to name an award after him an easy one.
“He’s a fighter,” Paul said. “And he’s remained so positive through the journey. I’m just fortunate to witness his strength firsthand.”