After spending the last ten years of my life, trying to teach my son to become the soccer player his dad once was, the events of Sept. 15, 2005 seemed to spell the end of one of the most beautiful chapters in my life. It seemed absurd to think that I would pursue the game anymore. In the days immediately after, several of my coaching associates implored me to never give up soccer. We never could or ever did. At first it was standing beside Michael J and Andy’s teammates at Central, trying to salvage a nightmare season, and put some meaning back in their lives which still went on. We watched them with pride as they put all their heart and effort into their play; as through pain and sweat, they created a living tribute to the friends they had lost. Then it carried through to the summer of 2006, as we traveled with an AYSO all-star team to Chicago, composed of many of his past teammates that he was so proud of. They carried his name on their sleeve, as the Michael J. Martin Memorial Team. Soccer for us was becoming a religious retreat. As we stared at the moon, on many countless quite nights following the wreck, we trusted that God had a plan. We had such a perfect life with our son. Why would he punish us? But maybe he gave MJ a gift of a wonderful passage to heaven, and He was telling us that were so many kids other out there, who would love to have what Michael J had had. Maybe we were good parents, and he wasn’t punishing us.
As we attempted a lonely return to AYSO, in the spring of 2006, we discovered a young student who had an intense desire to play. He said he and Michael J were the “Quiet “ teammates, and he said Michael J and Andy’s spirit lived inside of him. He became the first of many kids, who we have now sponsored, to take Michael’s place on a soccer field of dreams. Our relationships have become sunny spots for all, in a world that may often seem imposing or unfair. We don’t know what made us go back to that stadium on that painful night, but we know now that a soccer field can be a magical and sacred place, where the angel boys live and frolic. So many of the players who we have associated with since, know this too.
Featured Highlight in June 30, 2010 newsletter
AYSO Parents Honor Their Son’s Memory At National Games
There are over 210 teams at the AYSO National Games 2010, but the journey of Region 605’s team, Vikings – Angels Boys, from Charlotte, N.C., began five years ago when Michael and Bonnie Martin’s son, Michael J., was killed in a tragic car accident on his way to a high school game.
After Michael J.’s death, Michael and Bonnie formed a non-profit organization in honor of his memory – Michael’s Moon. Through that organization, each year they sponsor several AYSO players to attend the AYSO Section 5 Games and the AYSO National Games. These are players who couldn’t otherwise afford to participate
Michael and Bonnie also continue to volunteer in AYSO. Michael is a U-19 Boys coach, and Bonnie is the team parent. They will be at the National Games next week, with the AYSO kids they sponsor. If you ask them why they still are so involved with AYSO with no kids of their own playing – they respond, “All the kids on the team are our kids!”