WEDDINGTON, N.C. -- A beloved baseball player from Weddington was killed during a Marine training exercise in Camp Pendleton, Calif. this week.
Josh Islam decided his junior year at Weddington High that he would trade one uniform for another when he graduated.
Teammate Sean Collins says, "He would always talk about being a Marine. That's what he was working for because he just wanted to serve our country."
The 18 year old was just days out of combat training when he died Monday while treading water during a training exercise in a pool. A Marine spokesman says his death is under investigation and there is no cause of death yet determined. An autopsy is expected in a few weeks.
The pitcher on the Weddington High baseball state championship team was a motivator.
His coach Travis Poole told NBC Charlotte, "He was a great kid, an unbelievable kid."
He never missed a game, not a practice, not even a workout.
"He was one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever had in 17 years. Everything he did, he did 110 percent," Poole added. "He wanted to please everybody -- his coaches, teammates, family. He wanted to please everybody."
The close-knit baseball players are struggling with Josh’s death.
A Weddington High senior who played with Islam for three years, Collins says, "We're basically like a family. You become so close, so losing someone like that, it's hard."
But their coach knows how they’ll honor him: by continuing to work hard at being the best, like Josh did.
"Now when we hear the national anthem before every game, it's going to mean a lot more because all he wanted to do was to be the best in the Marines and fight for our country."
Islam's funeral will be in Florida, where his family now lives, but they're planning a celebration of his life in Weddington. Arrangements haven’t been made.