Brandon Martens’ leadership and character has netted him a spot in a prestigious event at this year’s Grey Cup weekend.
The son of Patrick and Kyla Martens has been selected as one of the “first 10” for the All-Canadian Titan team as part of the Nissan Kickoff Project. Up to 70 football student-athletes from across the country will be invited to participate in an exhibition game held a couple days before the Canadian Football League’s championship tilt in Edmonton. In order to be selected, the players must demonstrate the TITAN values of: toughness, innovation, tenacity, ambition and notability.
“I am most excited to be coached and mentored by CFL coaches and players as well as to play out west and have the opportunity to showcase my skills,” said Martens, a Grade 12 student at Virden Collegiate Institute.
A two-way player for the VCI Golden Bears, Martens was nominated by defensive coach Mark Wakely. The veteran coach said the team looks to Martens for leadership.
“As a coach, I have let him run with it and he has excelled,” Wakely said. “This is one of the main reasons I nominated him for the award. He does a lot not only for our team but also our school… he is just a good kid. I was honored to nominate him and extremely honored he was named in the first 10 of the 70.”
In his nomination, Wakely called Martens “one of the most coachable players that I have had in my 20 years of coaching.” Martens has also distinguished himself as a leader. Wakely detailed in the nomination how Martens came to the first practice in grade 11 with a defensive scheme for the team.
“His imagination and innovation was way ahead of those around him,” wrote Wakely, who emphasized that Martens is extremely dedicated to the team and works hard to improve those around him. “Brandon never quits thinking about football. He has never missed a practice and is always the first one to demonstrate a drill and help those understand what is needed to succeed.”
Martens certainly has a passion for the gridiron.
“I love the physicality of the game,” he said. “I love the way football is like a brotherhood, I trust my teammates and they trust me to do my job on the field to help win the game.”
For the past two years, on his own volition, he has run a free camp to condition players and for those who wanted to learn about the sport.
A student with an average of more than 90 per cent, Martens is a proven leader off the football field, as VCI Student Council president and Philanthropy Fund president. Whether it is football or his other pursuits, Martens is quick to praise his parents for their backing.
“They have been my biggest supporters throughout the years,” he said. “They have always made time for me to be able to go and train in the gym or go outside and work on my footwork. Always they’re at my games to help support me by cheering me on or telling what I could be doing better. To add to their support, this year I have been busy with my other extracurricular activities like Student Council president and Philanthropy Fund president. They have been able to pick up some of the slack at home and let me focus on my homework and extracurricular activities.”
On the football field, Martens is a force for the Golden Bears. Last season he was nominated as both the defensive and offensive MVP for the Rural Manitoba Football League.
“Our opposition generally has two players assigned to him whether it is when he is a running back or they are needed to block him on defence,” Wakely wrote in his nomination, while also noting that hard work in the gym has allowed Martens to deliver devastating hard hits on defence and to carry players on his back on offence.
On offence, VCI utilizes his talents in various ways.
“He mainly plays running back and carries the ball,” VCI offensive coach Doug Roach said. “Sometimes he is the lead blocker and on some plays he is the decoy for others to get the ball. He has also played as an end on the line for pass plays. At times, he has also been under center for quarterback keepers.”
On the other side of the ball, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Martens “is our middle linebacker, which means he is in on most of the tackles. He is very good at helping others on the field. He leads our team in tackles,” Wakely said.
Martens would like to play football next season, but he said he is definitely going to university. He wants to study business, possibly accounting, and is intrigued with later studying law.