By Hannah Gold
One cold, blustery day in January 2008, Blake Bales got serious about sports. He was nine and his parents had just bought a golf course, so he picked up his clubs and headed toward the first tee … in a blinding snowstorm and 35 degree weather. That was their first indication that he was destined to be a dedicated athlete.
Nine years later, Bales is a five-sport athlete at Schoolcraft High School, lettering in golf, football, baseball, bowling and basketball. He carries a 3.62 GPA. He represented the school in state competition for both bowling and golf and has been part of some of the school’s most successful athletic teams for the past four years. In June, Bales will graduate with not only a high school diploma, but 41 college credits to get him started on his way to becoming a defense attorney. He plans to attend Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek to study and play baseball.
What drives a young athlete to achieve? According to Bales, one experience was playing high school football. Bales played rocket football but quit in middle school to focus on baseball. His junior year he decided that he wanted to play football again and said, “It was one of the best choices I’ve ever made.” Citing the culture of the team as having forever changed his high school experience, he noted that his teammates are his family. “Through football I learned how to help other people through any kind of issues that may come up because, even though we are not related, we are a family,”
“Being a student athlete taught me the importance of sportsmanship. In football, we went 9-0 in the 2016 regular season and then were beaten in the first round of playoffs by our biggest rival. After the game our coach didn’t have much to say, but he did tell us that no matter what had happened we would not trash them or their game.
“We play for the name on the front of our jerseys, and not the name on the back. Even though our season was over, he made sure that we put things in the proper perspective.”
Bales recently was recognized by the MHSAA with the Scholar-Athlete Award. He credits others for his drive for success as well, namely his parents and teachers. “My parents have always pushed me to be a good student and to get good grades and my teachers have always been available and willing to help one-on-one. I knew I wanted to go to college from a young age and studying hard in high school was a way to be eligible for scholarships.”
Outside the classroom, Bales has stayed busy as a member of the National Honor Society, a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters, a coach for the Schoolcraft High Junior Pro Basketball Program, and a member of Complete Baseball club. He also has held a full-time job every summer and worked part-time throughout the school year since he was nine. At 10, he ran a golf club washing business to help raise money for his travel baseball expenses.
He was injured twice during his high school career. He suffered a broken thumb in his sophomore year, which prevented him from playing baseball but didn’t hinder his golf game – he qualified for State. In his senior year, he developed a stress fracture and spent the next eight weeks in a corrective boot, forcing him off the basketball court, but not the bowling alley, where he again qualified for State.
If Bales has his way, as a defense attorney he will have the opportunity to help innocent people prove their case, and bring guilty parties to trial. “I predict I will feel a great satisfaction working for people in need; especially in financial need since I can understand their situation,” he said.