Branch gets unforgettable surprise

Published 9:39 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Nansemond River High School graduate and Old Dominion University sophomore Marvin Branch got the surprise of a lifetime during Mother’s Day weekend.

Branch, a walk-on sophomore linebacker for the ODU football team, was awarded a full athletic scholarship in a surprise orchestrated by his coaches.

Branch never saw it coming.

Email newsletter signup

“I had no idea,” he said. “It was an amazing surprise especially the way they did it for my mother. Seeing them do it for my Mother’s Day and seeing her cry tears of joy just made everything I’ve been through to get to this point.”

Head coach Bobby Wilder was talking to his team in a meeting with Branch’s mother on the phone via Facetime. He called Branch to the front of the room in front of the team and had him open an envelope with his scholarship in it and read it to his mother while she was on the phone. When his team realized what he was reading, they filled the room with cheers.

Branch has worked for everything he has received since stepping on the ODU campus. Nothing is guaranteed to a walk-on player, but the former Warrior never let that stop him.

He started from the bottom of the team’s depth chart and worked his way up to earn playing time. Financially, there were times where things got tough for his family, and he worked through that as well. There were times where he got discouraged, but he continued to press forward.

“My family helped me through so much,” he said. “They were a big help mentally. Sometimes I would lose confidence in myself, but they always kept me going and kept me motivated.”

When he first stepped foot on the ODU campus, Branch told himself that at some point he’d earn a scholarship. Now that he has accomplished that, he knows it is a testament to how hard he has worked.

He wants his journey to show his younger siblings that they can achieve anything they can put their mind to, no matter their circumstances.

“My siblings inspire me in more ways than they can imagine,” Branch said. “I try to achieve and make an impression that just shows them that they can do anything.”

ODU made its first bowl game this past season when the team played in the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl against Eastern Michigan University. In that game, Branch had four tackles, and ODU got the win. He played in 11 games last season and is looking forward to his junior season. He has goals to win the conference and go back to another bowl game.