You find yourself sprawled on the field after successfully tackling the opposing team’s quarterback. About to get up and resume the game, you freeze when you hear a crack and a pain shoots through your arm. Your left hand has been crushed under one of your opponent’s spiky cleats. The game immediately ceases and you look up to see your teammates cringing at the sight of your mangled hand…
While most athletes would resort to sideline pampering in this type of situation, Nabil Balamane, defensive tackle for Palo Alto High School’s JV football team, regards such an incident as a normal occurrence. Over the years he has had four concussions, broken both hands, dislocated his shoulder twice in one game, and he sprained his MCL, an essential knee muscle. By now he’s practically an injury veteran. But, despite the numerous (and severe) injuries he has suffered, none has deterred him from playing his life-long passion — football. His devotion to his favorite sport is shown through his hard work on the field as well as his fervor off the field.
Like many Paly football players, Balamane began playing football as a 6th grader at Jordan Middle School. He figured it would be fun to try a sport he had enjoyed for such a long time, and jumped in with full enthusiasm. Five years and multiple ER visits later, Balamane has made a name for himself at Paly by receiving both the offensive and defensive First Team All-League awards and being one of the captains of the JV football team. Balamane’s work ethic and dedication to the sport are what made him such a reputable player. “Nabil is a prime example that hard work pays off. He plays to win,” said Chris Reade, receiver for the Vikings.
The source of Balamane’s unwavering devotion mostly comes from watching his favorite NFL player, Mike Alstott of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But it wouldn’t be surprising if his athletic ability and resilience came naturally — after all, his uncle played for the National Volleyball Team in Algeria and his aunt was a gold medallist in gymnastics.
To Balamane, football goes beyond its athletic value — it’s also a way for him to release stress. This, along with years of admiring the sport, has fueled his love for football. The 6-foot 2-inch Paly sophomore said he has been a football fanatic since he can remember. When he isn’t on the field he’s most likely checking football stats online or following the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He enjoys watching both professional football and college football, and attends Stanford football games frequently.
During the off-season, Balamane is able to recover from the injuries he has accumulated from the football season. He is currently doing wrestling at Paly, and is considering doing track as well. While life and sports go on for this weathered athlete, he remains dedicated to football by frequently lifting weights to stay in shape for the next season. Nothing seems to slow him down. Even during the off-season, this football aficionado stays true to his game. While Balamane is a key player on the wrestling team and he enjoys the sport, football remains his favorite and he’s always ready for the next season to start.
But what about the thumb that he recently dislocated in a wrestling match? Will he let this faze him? No way.