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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Atkinson teen heads to Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl

From the Eagle Tribune;

January 4, 2011
Atkinson teen heads to Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl

By Cara Hogan The Eagle Tribune Tue Jan 04, 2011, 12:19 AM EST

ATKINSON — Michael Balsamo is ready to prove he can run circles around the best football players from Texas, Kansas and Michigan in the Super Bowl for 14-year-olds.

Michael is the first player ever from New Hampshire to compete in the Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl, a national game featuring the very best up-and-coming middle-school football players in the United States and Canada.

The Atkinson native is the captain of the Timberlane Tornadoes and in November led his team to the championship game, but lost. He said this game is another chance to win a championship.

"It was tough to lose and it makes up for it to go to this game," he said yesterday. "I can't wait to test myself against different talent from around the country. I bet I'm going to make a lot of friends."

Michael, who is 6 feet 1 inch tall, is a running back and free safety. Coach Jerry Lovett said Michael's talent is impossible to ignore.

"Someone like Mike could be almost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to coach," Lovett said. "We've had some tremendous players, but I don't think any of them had the talent Mike has. He can play any position and he'd excel at it."

Lovett nominated Michael for a Football University summer camp in Boston, reserved for the best players in the area. From there, coaches in Boston nominate two or three of the best kids to attend a "Top Gun" national camp and Michael was invited to go for the past two years.

Those opportunities led to Michael's invitation, one of three players nominated in the Northeast, to the Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl.

"Being the first player ever from New Hampshire to be chosen for this is huge," Lovett said. "Having the opportunity to play with kids from down South and the Midwest, where football is really big, shows the rest of the nation we're not as far behind in terms of football in the Northeast. I think he'll hold his own and he'll impress some of the coaches."

Michael attends Sacred Hearts School in Bradford, and started playing football with teams in Atkinson when he was in fifth grade. He also played other sports — hockey, basketball and baseball — but he said he always felt football was his sport.

"Football is fast-paced and uses a lot of determination, passion and hard work," the teenager said. "I just love it."

He plays a number of positions, but said running back is his favorite.

"I know it's not just about fame and glory, but at running back you get all the touchdowns," he said.

His father, Joe Balsamo, said even though it looks like football comes easy to his son, he works hard for everything.

"This invitation is just a testament to how hard he works and how much he loves the game," Balsamo said. "His passion and love for the game just shows every time he plays. Mike is a very quiet kid, but when he's on the football field, he just leads by example. And the kids rally around him and really look up to him."

His mother, JoeAnn Balsamo, said throughout everything, her son has remained humble.

"He didn't really start telling his friends about anything until recently," she said. "I thought it would be blasted on Facebook, but he really kept it quiet."

Both his parents will accompany him on the trip to the Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl in Texas. But the trip isn't free. The family paid for the flight to Texas, along with the hotel and food for the five days of the event. His parents said they are both thrilled to be there to support their son.

Michael said he tries to keep all the attention from going to his head. He said he couldn't have done it without the support of his teammates, coach and family, especially his brother, Stephen, 18, who is a hockey player and helped him train.

"Hopefully, I can keep my grades up and work hard every summer, and keep doing what I'm doing," Michael said. "My dream is to play college football. I'd love to play for the University of Miami."

Michael will play safety for the eighth-grade USA football team against Canada on Sunday at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The game will be webcast online at


MAcciard said...

Way to go, Mike! Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Wow something positive here. Mike is a great kid and deserves all the kudo's the town can give him. Make a ick or 2 in texas Mikey B!

Anonymous said...

Keep going! We hope we hear more about you in the coming years.
There is nothing like a fan so welcome to the club.


Anonymous said...

GREAT JOB MIKE! You're a great kid from a great family and Atkinson is very proud of you!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic and good luck.

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