Balling Breaks Record
With one kick Hope Balling earned herself a prestigious spot in the Tonawanda High School athletic history books.
Balling, a junior, scored a natural hat trick to lead the Lady Warriors to a 4-0 win over JFK in ECIC IV action that was played at Clinton H.Small Stadium on Oct.8.
Scoring the 97th, 98th and 99th goals of her career, Balling became the Lady Warriors all-time leading scorer. Breaking the mark of 97 that was set by Kalyn Compeau in 2013.
“It feels great. Right now it hasn’t hit me that much yet,” Balling said. “At the end of the season I know it’ll hit me and when I graduate it will be there.”
But the most impressive thing about Hope Balling isn’t the stats she racks up on the soccer field, but rather the way she carries herself on and off the field.
Balling is the model of what a student-athlete and team leader should be. Cracking the varsity roster as a seventh grader midway through the season, Balling had the good fortune to play along aside Kalyn Compeau who was not only a teammate, but an inspiration as well.
“I looked up to her because she always wanted to put the ball in the net and I wanted my (game) mentality to be like that,” said Balling. “(Kalyn) rubbed off (on me) a lot because obviously we did really good when we had her on our team.”
Freshman Zoe Oliver said that Balling is the kind of girl that teammates can rely on as a leader and friend. Yes, when Balling is on the field she is all business. She gives her best and inspires teammates to demand the best from themselves. But Oliver said there is an intrinsic quality in Balling that makes her special.
Yes, Hope Balling cares about winning, but she cares more about her teammates. “She’s real energetic and that always brings the team up during the game,” Oliver said. “When we’re not having not one of our best games she always knows what to say to bring us back up. She just always knows what to say.”
Whenever the Warriors play a lesser skilled team Balling shows her sportsmanship by not piling on the points. Balling obviously wants to win and do her best for her team, but when she knows the game is in hand that when Balling shows her character and takes a step back. Balling knows the difference between beating an opponent and pointlessly demoralizing them. Balling loves the game and doesn’t want to do anything that would rob other girls of that same love-even in defeat.
“She’s just leads by example. She’s just very mature, but she’s humble at the same time,” said Lady Warriors coach Angela Tolsma.
“She’s just a joy, always. I think my favorite part about her is she’s always having fun. It’s infectious. It really is. And it carries over to me. To the girls. It’s just somebody who enjoys playing the game, enjoys playing for her school. She’s just really awesome to have.”
When the Warriors build a comfortable lead Balling is only too happy to give way so others can get playing time. Balling doesn’t sulk while on the bench. She continues to be a positive presence and keeps the mood light through her naturally likeable personality and kind heart.
“I think that people think of me like that, hopefully,” Balling said with a smile. “I just want to be there for everyone and just to show everyone how to work hard and what hard work will get you.”
Balling will have her first shot at reaching the century mark this coming Tuesday when the Warriors host Eden at 7pm. Hitting 100 will certainly be nice but Balling says that, like every other milestone mark, will be put on the back burner and appreciated an a more appropriate time. For now, it’s about playing hard and sharing this special time with her band of sisters.
“I’m so close with all the girls,” Balling said, “so my memories with them is what I’m going to take away from this.”