AMES, Iowa — Basketball is a game for some, but for a team of eighth graders, it is a way to pay tribute to those who have passed.
“I think it’s just wonderful, the way they’re paying respect to fellow officers,” said retired West Des Moines Police Capt. Bernie Taylor, as he watched the team from the stands.
With Team Martin printed on their white jerseys, the group of eighth-grade boys played hard in honor of the late Martin.
“[Justin’s] looking at us right now, happy,” Urbandale Police Sgt. Shane Taylor said.
Taylor coaches the team and said they stand for everything Martin represents.
“They’re passionate about what they do, they support each other, they go out there and they work hard for each other, they don’t quit, and they continue to battle till the very end,” Taylor said.
“I’ve always tried to be the best person I can be and to do this for Justin. It just makes me feel so much better that I can do this for somebody who represented what all people should be like,” Team Martin player Taylor Beron said.
You could feel the energy and support from the crowd as Team Martin took home the win.
“So many people come and ask us about the team jerseys and stuff. I’ve had people take pictures of our jerseys. It’s super cool,” Team Martin player Austin Taylor said.
“This is a great experience for these kids just to kind of experience the honor and integrity that we have as officers and to show teamwork on the field,” said Eric Beron, a reserve police officer on the Urbandale Police Department.
The Urbandale Police Department also installed a plaque Saturday on the corner 70th Street and Aurora Avenue, where Martin was killed in the line of duty.
There are several memorials for Beminio inside the Des Moines Police Department. His colleagues are able to reflect on his legacy.
“He was kind of a composite of all the best things you see in all the best people. He was an amazing leader here, but he was a great partner at the same time. He was a tremendous family man, he was a loving husband, a best friend for a lot of us and then a mentor for so many in this department,” Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek said.
“He always said if you get good at something, it’s time to move on and do something else,” Des Moines Police Senior Officer Ned Chiodo said. “He was always trying to push people to want more.”