SUAMICO — For Josiah Azure today was a chance to take a step back.
In front of his family, friends, and coaches, he reflected on just how far he's come and how long and winding the road has been.
A few years ago the vision of playing on Saturdays was nonexistent considering he didn't transfer to Bay Port until his sophomore year and never played football until that point.
Now, he signed his National Letter of Intent on Monday morning to join North Dakota State's football program. A Bison program that has won nine Division I titles since 2011.
"Jojo just showed up on our doorstep so to say and just said hey coach I've never played before, I want to play football. I've had that happen before, but typically its never ended like this," said Bay Port Head Coach Gary Westerman.
Azure played other sports including track and field in high school and soccer through his freshman year at Providence Academy in Howard.
"I'd just never gotten the chance to play it and my dad asked me when I was going into my sophomore year if I wanted to come here and play football," said Azure.
Westerman said Azure trained hard and worked very well with coaches, so it wasn't a surprise when he broke out as a junior.
"People that have the ability to play at the Division I level, when you turn on a game film they immediately snap off the screen and say ok this guy can really play," said Westerman.
During his senior year season, Azure was named first team all-state at outside linebacker. He also won the state's defensive player of the year award from the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association.
Despite his young playing career, Azure quickly rose up area talent rankings and helped lead his team to a Fox River Classic Conference championship during his senior year.
That's when things changed.
Azure was diagnosed with testicular cancer after the team's first playoff game. He said it was tough watching from the sideline, but as a senior he already became accustomed to a different role helping the younger players.
"I really kind of stepped into a role of leadership in the team. Kind of teaching the people below me what to do and taking charge of people," said Azure.
Now, Azure has been going through treatments and plans on picking up right where he left off.
"Playing more football and winning championships," said Azure.