Jeff Kolpack, Published September 29 2012
Bison defensive back balances graduate school, football and a newborn baby
There was football practice all week. There were classes for his gerontology curriculum to address. There was film study to prepare for a game at Northern Iowa tonight and there was a baby to be born on Wednesday morning.
School. Football. Wife. Football. Baby. School. Football.
“I don’t feel stressed out, I feel blessed,” Martin said.
He and his wife, Nadia, were blessed at 1:53 p.m. Wednesday when their daughter Ataliya Martin was born at 7 pounds, 5 ounces.
Meanwhile, sometime during the afternoon, his fellow Bison cornerbacks spearheaded a team drive to provide the baby essentials for the young family and left Martin a gift box next to his locker. One player tweeted he was off to buy diapers.
“We support every player going through family issues like that,” said center Joe Lund, who like Martin is also married.
The transfer from, of all teams, Northern Iowa arrived over the summer, and it didn’t take him long to mesh with his new teammates.
“Anyone who can come from an opposing rivalry school and gain the respect he’s gained as quickly as he has is definitely a special individual,” said Bison quarterback Brock Jensen.
Martin took advantage of an NCAA rule that allows players who have their four-year degree to transfer to another school for graduate school and be eligible immediately. UNI did not have his master’s degree of choice, so he went looking elsewhere.
The fact that NDSU defensive coordinator Chris Klieman helped recruit Martin out of St. Louis and coached him at UNI was a major factor.
“He and I had a pretty special bond when I was back at UNI,” Klieman said. “He was one of the first few kids I called when I accepted the job here. He understood and said, ‘Do what’s best for your family.’ ”
There appears to be no ill feelings, or any behind-the-scenes shenanigans, with Martin changing schools. All signs point to an academic-first decision. UNI head coach Mark Farley said earlier this week that Martin’s name had yet to come up.
“Andre is a great young man,” Farley said.
Ask him about going back to the UNI-Dome today and he’ll tell you he’s been in a lot of hostile environments. He’ll tell you good players block out the fans and focus on the play.
He started 23 games and played in 36 in three years at Northern Iowa. His production fell off his junior season, but it has resumed at NDSU. It took him just two games into the season to earn a starting berth at a position that is steep in depth.
“The guys and coaches have been very encouraging, I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Martin said. “I feel like I’ve been here for a couple of years.”
The last couple of weeks may have seemed like a couple of years to him. He said Nadia woke up frequently with labor pains or back aches. There were times when she had a tough time breathing, he said.
A spiritual man, he says he turns to prayer to get him through a lot of situations. He can quote a scripture to just about any situation that involves an obstacle.
Football. Baby. Wife. School. There is no calling a timeout; that only happens in a football game. It’s about balance, Andre said.
“I just try to tell myself mentally how to balance things,” he said. “When I’m on the field or in the film room, I focus on that. When I get home, my focus shifts back to my wife and baby. I feel like God gave me a gift and it’s a privilege to have a wife and have her go through this process.”
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.
Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found