Tommy Martin played a key role for a group of Thayer Bobcat football players that should go down as the best in school history.
Three straight district championships.
Two straight trips to the Class 1 Show-Me Bowl at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
Two straight appearances on the All-State football team.
That in itself is a pretty impressive resume.
So when Martin manages to take a brief moment to look back on his days in the green and white for Thayer, what sticks out in his mind the most?
The district titles?
Finishing as Class 1 runners-up twice?
The All-State honors?
The answer might surprise you.
"Honestly, the trips to the Dome, of course," he said. "But what really stands out in my mind (about his time playing football at Thayer) ... what I remember the most are mistakes that I made in the games. Those are imbedded in my head, the things I need to work on to help me get better. So even though we had the success that we did, the things that I messed up on are what I remember the most."
That willingness to honestly self-evaluate his game, along with the ability to correct those mistakes through hard work and repetition in practice has paid off for the 6-0, 190-pound senior in the form of an opportunity to play football at the collegiate level.
Martin signed a letter of intent April 28 in the Thayer High School library to play football at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina next fall.
"There were a couple of schools looking at me, but I went with the one that not only met my financial needs, but seemed to have a good community around the school," he said. "And the coaches were nice and I've gotten close to several of the players."
Martin is projected to be a middle linebacker for the Coyotes, a position he also played for the Bobcats during his four years at the varsity level.
In addition to linebacker, Martin also saw significant time on the offensive side of the football last fall as a tight end.
"He's been a fantastic leader and a great player for us," said Thayer Head Coach Billy Webber. "His junior year, he was a great defensive player for us and then last year, he turned into a two-way starter that was great on both sides of the football. He's one of those guys that really does leave everything out there on the field. He's just a great high school football player."
The Bobcats took quite a hit due to graduation after Martin's junior year, not only in terms of on-field talent, but also in the always-important area of locker room leadership.
According to Webber, it didn't take Martin long to step up and help fill that leadership void.
"He was real quick to step up and take charge ... he wanted to continue the success that we'd had his junior and sophomore years," Webber said. "He's a big-hearted kid. He's the kind of kid everybody wants to coach."
No doubt every high school player that makes the leap to the college gridiron wants to make an immediate splash at the next level. And while Martin is no different, he knows it won't be a step taken without a lot of hard work.
"As long as I stay in the weight room and continue to work hard, I hope to have a starting spot by my junior year," Martin said. "Hopefully, I'll get some playing time my sophomore year, but as long as I keep working hard and stay with it, I think I'll do pretty good."
At the college level, not only are the players bigger and stronger, they're also quicker, a fact not lost on Martin.
"I really need to work on my speed," he said. "My instincts are pretty good and I can flow to the ball, but if I can work on increasing my speed, I should be able to get to the point of attack quicker than everybody."
When it comes to out-working the competition, his high school coach says that's an area that Martin takes a back seat to no one in.
"With his work ethic, I think he'll work his way into things there (Kansas Wesleyan)," said Webber. "He might be a little undersized, but with his work ethic and his demeanor, I think he'll find a spot and work his way into a role. If he were two inches taller and weighed 20 more pounds, he'd be going somewhere pretty big. But he'll find a spot, no doubt."