Cory Ballew has been playing soccer since he was 3 years old. He took to it right away.
“When I was 3, everybody was saying, ‘You’re really good,’” he recalled today.
Though there were ups and downs along the way, times when he wanted to quit, he kept at it.
“Mom would say, ‘No, you can’t quit yet because you’re already committed.’” Ballew related. “Family, coaches, teammates, people in the environment (kept me going.)”
As a result, he eventually became one of the top players for the Bryant Hornets and, with the help of a friend, drew the attention of Central Baptist College head coach Peter Smith. This morning, Ballew signed a letter of intent to continue his soccer career and his education at the Conway school.
The friend was former Hornet teammate Corey Laisure who joined the CBC team last year.
“Corey Laisure gave me a heads-up that Cory Ballew might be somebody to look at,” Smith said. “I was able to go out and watch him play with his club team andI liked what I saw.”
“We talked,” Ballew added, “and then I went up there for a tour. He offered me, so I took it.”
Ballew said he had considered going to school at John Brown University or Ozarks but noted that CBC was closer and Laisure was there but the main thing was, “I got a scholarship to CBC. I didn’t get a scholarship anywhere else.”
He said he plans on majoring in Kinesiology.
“They don’t have Physical Therapy at CBC yet so I’ll do Kinesiology there then transfer to UCA for two years to do the P.T. program there,” he said.
This season, Ballew has been playing center mid for the Hornets.
“He’s as loyal and as hard-working as we’ve had,” said Bryant coach Jason Hay. “He’s solid. He really can play anywhere. He’s played every spot on the field for us except keeper and I bet if I asked him he could probably do that.
“As a freshman, he started at wing and forward and did the same thing as a sophomore,” he continued. “Last year, Coach (Brett) Hough moved him back to defender and he started and did well. This year, we moved him up to mid. He’s played a little bit of forward.”
Ballew acknowledged that his current position is his favorite.
“He controls the game,” Hay said. “If you can win the mid, you can win a game and he does a good job. He’s a good defender. He hustles to get back. Sometimes you get mids that want to push up and play offense. He’s always going to be the first one to get back because he’s played that defender and he knows what it’s like to get hung out.”
Asked about his plans for his new recruit, Smith said, “He’s a center midfielder by trade. That shows he can play both sides of the ball.
“He’s an intelligent player,” he continued. “That being the case, he can play a multitude of positions. We’ve got some depth coming in next year and he’s part of that. He can fill in some roles in the center midfield or even defensively, maybe the right back position. That’s a place where I like to have a highly intelligent person. Having a younger player stepping up to the next level, it’s a position that will allow him to get some success and see some time and make some game-time decisions to kind of help him earn his stripes toward working into that midfield role.”
“They’re getting a quality kid, a well-rounded player who can be a guy they can put anywhere they need him and he’ll be solid,” Hay added. “He’s just a great kid. He’s done a good job for us.”