In 2014, Tyrone Martin finished his colligate athletic career a member of Indiana Wesleyan’s most successful soccer team on record. With 18 consecutive wins and only one loss, the team experienced outstanding athletic accomplishments. This display of dominance was especially impressive given the restructuring in coaching the team experienced during the same year. Martin’s personal athletic achievements concurrently reached an apex as he was named first-team All-American the end of his final year at IWU. Despite his notable personal and team contributions, Martin states that the most influential aspect of his collegiate athletic experience was the strong sense of community he experienced on the team.
Transferring into the IWU athletic department after playing two seasons at San Diego State University, Martin stated that the most notable difference between IWU and any other soccer team he’d played on was its sense of community.
“I used to play on a team at a D1 school,” Martin recalls, “however that team was much more individual-focused. There, we were always fighting for ourselves, specifically, for a position to play. At IWU, we learned to fight for each other.” Referring to his former teammates, Martin repeatedly called the Men’s soccer team a Brotherhood, stressing the high level of accountability they placed on each other, athletically, relationally, and spiritually. Teammates were accountable to each other with workouts as well as spiritual disciplines; Martin mentioned that the team implemented these disciplines through individual accountability partners. Having this accountability inspired Martin to achieve his full potential as an athlete, and person.
“We were more driven to glorify Christ, respect each other, and work to achieve our highest level of athletic ability,” stated Martin. Because of the Christ-mindedness of the team, Martin stated that the men’s soccer community was a place for spiritual formation as all the men pursued a deeper relationship with Christ together. Although the time commitment and workouts were rigorous, Marin emphasized the value that he placed on the team was based on the tightly-knit community.
Graduating this past April, Martin described the most difficult transition from college being losing the community aspect he had enjoyed in college. For Martin, these teammates became family; he lived with them, did ministry with them, competed with them, and lived life with them. In 2013, Martin articulated the blessing he experienced ministering with the soccer team through the IWU Athletic Department New Zealand mission’s trip. Representatives from each of the athletic teams went on a week-long sports blitz in Auckland, New Zealand, and worked in various sports settings. This trip introduced Martin to the idea of sports teams working together for a united goal. And their ministry reception was huge. Reflecting on his time in New Zealand, Martin expressed that using soccer for ministry allowed him to refocus on the value and potential of his team. Also, he learned the potential that sports have for making a difference in the world.
Returning from New Zealand, Martin began pursuing opportunities to use athletics as a ministry. In 2013, IWU began a chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Eagerly, Martin joined and helped to facilitate a small group encouraging student athletes to pursue Spiritual, as well as athletic excellence. This opportunity for spiritual growth and service further piqued Martin’s desire to combine athletics and ministry.
Following graduation in 2015, he relocated to Los Angeles, California to join a Christian soccer ministry organization called the Southern California Seahorses. Martin now uses his athletic skills in a variety of outlets. He works as a personal trainer, coach, and volunteer for urban ministry. Additionally, Martin volunteers in after-school soccer programs, targeting youth from the inner city. With all these programs for engaging athletes, Martin stresses the ministry’s primary focus is united. The Seahorses play soccer as a tool to further the Gospel and the love of Christ.
In addition to ministry opportunities, Martin is also pursuing personal athletic goals. This coming January, he is looking to try out for the LA Galaxy 2, a professional soccer team based out of Los Angeles.
Reflecting on his time at IWU, Martin summarized that investing in one’s community is of utmost importance. Although he has been able to use his soccer skills since graduating, he mentioned that the atmosphere of the IWU Men’s soccer team is irreplaceable.
“I learned to invest in my teammates as much as I could. You miss them a lot after you graduate.”
Martin credits his IWU team for contributing to his athletic development, suggesting that community is a powerful agent for success.
Written by Katherine Arch, Story Teller for Alumni Relations. Katherine Arch is a Senior English major at Indiana Wesleyan, and a member of the Track and Cross Country teams. She is passionate about sharing people’s stories and celebrating their unique divine potential in written form. Katherine also operates a website called “Join the Ranch” at jointheranch.weebly.com. It is about pursuing God’s purpose for her life and vocation.