Madison Life and Times Spring 2016 - Page 15

Joey Martin Feek | COVER STORY Joey through the years ALWAYS A COUNTRY GIRL JOEY was a country girl long before she moved to Tennessee, where she proved just how much her Alexandria upbringing influenced her. She had learned to handle popularity and shine in the limelight. She had also learned to be a leader. Her senior year at Alexandria-Monroe, Joey was voted most athletic and best looking by her peers. She was selected homecoming queen her senior year. Joey participated in student council, National Honor Society, Spanish club, Students Against Destructive Decisions and volleyball her senior year. She had been class vice president as a freshman and sophomore. With her lanky frame and long strides, Joey was a competitive high school athlete, playing basketball her freshman, sophomore and junior years. She didn’t play her senior year so that she could focus on singing opportunities; it was a difficult decision. Former basketball coach Jon Howell said he always thought Joey was special, with the drive and determination to do anything she wanted. Howell issued a challenge Joey’s first year of high school when she and other freshmen played against girls two and three years older on the varsity level. The coach started weight training the team, which was somewhat unusual for girls playing high school basketball at the time. Joey rose to the challenge. Howell said it showed her work ethic, which he noted she got from her family. Joey grew stronger, both physically and mentally. “I remember a specific big strong girl gave her a shoulder block. Joey, two months earlier, would have gone flying. … She stood her ground,” he recalled. The Martin family was large and tight-knit. June and husband Jack had three daughters – Julie, Jody and Joey – and then a son, Justin. Joey and Justin, closest in age to each other, played together and grew closer and closer. When Justin was 17, his senior year of high school, he went out one night to the county fair. The Jeep he was driving crashed. Joey went with her mom to the accident scene. A week later, Justin died. To this day, the family still misses him. But they accept God’s will. Justin’s death, ultimately, deepened Joey’s faith. Joey’s passion wasn’t limited to sports and singing. She also was crazy about horses. Joey loved them so much that, when she was about 14 years old, she saved money from detasseling corn, babysitting and cleaning houses so she could buy a horse. Kyle Williams, who grew up in Alexandria around the same time as Joey, said he remembers some of the boys would spend more money than they should have at the horse fundraiser at the Madison County 4-H Fair. They simply wanted to be near Joey. They were attracted to her by her looks and talent, but also by her strength of character, Williams said. “Everyone knew where she’s from in terms of her character and her heart,” he explained. “She’s just like her family – a wonderful person.” When Joey graduated from high school, she didn’t want to go to college; it wasn’t necessary for her path as a country singer. Her parents were fine with that decision, but Joey knew the family rule – she had to get a job. So Joey worked for a veterinarian in Sheridan who specialized in equine and cattle health. She loved the job because she had daily contact with horses. But Joey never lost sight of her dream of singing onstage in Nashville. One day after she had worked in Sheridan for a few years, Joey stopped by Harger Farms in Noblesville, where her mom worked. “’Mom, I’m moving to Tennessee,’” she said. June asked her daughter how she would support herself while she looked for a job. Joey quickly responded that she already had one. “You haven’t even been down there. How could you have gotten a job?” June wondered. Joey had made connections to a veterinary practice not far from Nashville. Joey’s love of horses was evident from an early age. MADISON 15