Story by Nancy Covert, Photo courtesy Steve and Patricia Balogh
Come August 16, Steve and Patricia Balogh and their daughter, Randi , could be attending a pre-season game at Seattle’s Qwest Field. Although the Baloghs been long-time Seahawks fans, that afternoon, they hope to be in the stands watching a Chicago Bears’ player, who’s wearing Jersey No. 79 (see Bear photo below).
It’s only natural since that’s their son, Cody, who will be playing for the Chicago team.
Until this year they’d been both Steilacoom Sentinels and then Montana Grizzly fans.
“We’re Bears fans, now,” said Steve Balogh.
On Thursday, May 1, Cody Balogh, former Sentinel player, and member of the Class of 2004, reported to Soldier Field in Chicago with a group of 10 Rookie players recruited this year by the NFL Super Bowl Team.
The arrival at O’Hare International Airport was the start of an amazing weekend for the former Sentinel.
“Complete with a limousine ride from the airport to the camp,” said Cody.
In a telephone interview after he returned to classes at the University of Montana “studying for tests”, the 22-year-old summed up his time with the team, “spending time at meetings and then practice all weekend long.” He’s working toward a degree in Human Health and Fitness.
“You don’t realize how big the NFL is until you get put inside,” he continued, explaining how awesome it was to get to know other football players who were there.
“Everyone’s just a football player trying to do their best.”
“I feel that it (the mini-camp experience) went pretty good.”
After Cody completes his class work, he’ll return to Illinois on May 15. That’s when the veteran players arrive.
“I have to earn their respect, so I’ll continue to work hard and get better.”
With that combination working for him, he’s hopeful that by the end of the summer he’ll have earned a place on the team, and return to Washington on Aug. 16 for the pre-season game at Qwest Field.
Balogh, who played for the Sentinels in 2002-04 was an offensive tackle and defensive end for the team, recalled former SHS football coach Eric Miller. In 2004 the Sentinels’ record was 26-6.
“Cody earned all league status during his Junior and Senior years, and All State in his Senior year.” He continued to garner additional honors during college play.
“To the best of my knowledge, he’s the first SHS player to be recruited to an NFL team.” Miller continued.
“Cody, who earned a 3.8 grade point average during his high school years, was a “very good student, a very driven young man.”
His selection for the NFL team “was no surprise. I never had any doubt. He has the size, strength and speed,” Miller continued.
“Cody always accepted coaching. He applied it and did better. He was driven to be the best; he never played ‘dirty,'” Miller added.
JV coach Bruce Hayes recalled Cody from his years at Pioneer Middle School, when the then 6’0″ 8th grader played basketball for the Pirates.
The 22-year-old who played sports, first in Steilacoom; then Missoula, was scouted by the Seahawks, the Dolphins and the Bears.
The final week of April was especially tense around the Balogh home, as Cody and his parents watched the televised draft process and waited for an offer.
From their living room window, Steve Balogh recalled, they watched Cody pace the front yard, cell phone to his ear, as he negotiated with his agent. Finally, a deal was struck, and Cody packed for the flight to Chicago.
That weekend he joined other rookies there for their first taste of Bear training at the mini-camp at the start of May.
Along with both rookie and veteran players, Cody’s determined to help the Bears make it to another super bowl. Stay tuned.
Note: The Bears pre-season begins on Aug. 7, against the Chiefs, followed by the Aug 16 Seahawk matchup. Their regular season begins on Sept. 7 against the Colts.
J. C. Campbell, who graduated in the late 80s, tried out for both an NFL and Canadian team, recalled Mr. Hayes.