Balandra will get kick out of Cards

Published 11:01 pm Friday, May 19, 2023

South Point Pointers’ senior placekicker Braylon Balandra signed a letter-of-intent to play for the Otterbein University Cardinals. Attending the signing ceremony were: seated left to right, mother Sarah Meadows, Braylon Balandra and sister Malia Balandra; standing left to right, grandmother Sue Balandra and father Mark Balandra. (Tim Gearhart Sports Photo for The Ironton Tribune)

By Jim Walker

SOUTH POINT — Kicking around a soccer ball got Braylon Balandra kicking around a few ideas.

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The South Point senior was one of the top players for the Pointers’ soccer team and was asked to be the placekicker for the football team, something that has become common place in high school sports.

Balandra wasn’t sure what to do but decided to give it a try.

Braydon Balandra

“I’ve always been a soccer player. They wanted me to come out and kick and when I came out I realized I was really good. I had a natural talent. I’ve played soccer since I was 3 years old, but I love kicking football,” said Balandra.

But fate raised its ugly head as Balandra suffered a torn ACL during his junior year and missed both soccer and football.

After surgery and his rehabilitation period, Balandra was pronounced fit and allowed to return to the field to play.

Despite being cleared to play, Balandra admitted he was still a concerned about what might happen.

“I was real anxious coming back. I had to have surgery and there was a lot, but I just kept thinking every day that I’ll be back out there one day and I just had to stay consistent. I had the greatest family and friends and faith in God to get me through it,” said Balandra who decided to throw caution to the wind.

“You can’t be scared of nothing. Anything can happen. You can tear your ACL walking up the stairs or getting out of bed at night. You can’t think ‘this might happen.’ You just have to go for it,” said Balandra.

South Point head coach Chris Davis said the injury cost Balandra one season and he was concerned how Balandra would react once he returned.

“We didn’t know what was going to happen with him because he tore his ACL his junior year in soccer so we had to wait to see what he was going to do.” Said Davis.

“Eventually, he said he was OK to go so we brought him back his senior year. We wish we could have had him for two years, but we got him for one.”

Balandra said he likes each sport but admitted football offers something that he hasn’t experienced in soccer.

“I love the sport of football. I am just a kicker and I’m not out there hitting people, but the competition of football is just a lot of brotherhood. You’re playing for each other out there. I love love that,” Balandra said.

Moving up to the college level will be different and a challenge for Balandra, but he isn’t going to be intimidated.

“I’m just going to compete at my highest level and show them I can do it,” he said.

Balandra plans to major in sports management and a minor in marketing.

“I’m big into social media so I want to be a social media coordinator at the high school, college or professional level. Any level,” said Balandra.