Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 3, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
East Rowan High School Senior Jamey Blalock has been a straight-A student his entire life.
That’s right, the 18-year-old has never made a B.
And, he’s kept up his grades while leading the school’s football team as quarterback, playing baseball, being an active member of several clubs and participating in a number of activities at his church in Faith.
“I have one more semester to get through and I’m killing myself trying to hold up my streak,” he said.
But, Blalock’s hard work is starting to pay off.
He recently received nominations from U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and U.S. Rep. Howard Coble to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Blalock was one of 25 students in the Piedmont area to receive a nomination from Hagan.
“My office received 275 applications from extremely qualified students across the state,” she said in a press release. “The students selected for nominations across North Carolina have exemplary academic records and have made outstanding contributions to their communities.”
Now, he’s just waiting for his shoulder to heal after surgery to be receive a clean bill of health and his application to West Point will be complete.
After that, it’s a waiting game.
Blalock isn’t taking any chances though.
He’s waiting to hear back from N.C. State and has already been accepted at Clemson University and the University of South Carolina.
But he says West Point is still his No. 1 choice.
“It’s going to be hard to say no if I get in,” he said.
Why West Point?
Blalock said he neither one of his parents have been in the military and he had never even considered attending West Point until his former football coach Brian Hinson mentioned it more than a year ago.
“He thought it fit my personality and my character,” he said.
Blalock said he didn’t think about the conversation again until he got invited to a recruiting event.
“It was intriguing, it sounded more and more like me so I decided to look into it more,” he said.
After doing some research and talking with his friend Jon Crucitti, a West Rowan grad and freshman at West Point, Blalock decided to apply.
But, he said he still has some reservations.
“I have to be 100 percent sure before I make that commitment,” he said.
Blalock said West Point is appealing because of its prestige and well-known engineering program.
“And, it wouldn’t be hard to get a job with a degree from West Point, which is intriguing with the way jobs are,” he said.
But, it’s the five years of military service after graduation that make him a bit hesitant.
“Without a question if I went to West Point I would be shipped overseas to battle somewhere,” he said. “There is a very great chance that I would spend several years overseas and that would be tough.”
Blalock said he’s also close to his family, which would make moving to New York difficult.
“I’ve lived in the same house my whole life,” he said. “It would be hard to move 10 hours away and not be able to come home on the weekends to see them.”
Blalock said his parents, Jeff and Julie Blalock, have been to every one of his school and sporting events since he started playing baseball at the age of four.
And, they’ll stand behind whatever decision he makes.
“They said no matter what, they are proud of me and would support me,” he said.
Making the grade
Teacher Ernest Ritchie, who had Blalock for three advanced chemistry classes, called him a student that any teacher would want to have.
“Whenever they were doing group work and stuff he was always helping somebody or answering the questions, he was never just coasting. He wasn’t just sitting there,” Ritchie said.
Ritchie said although most of the school knows him as the Mustangs’ quarterback, he doesn’t fit the stereotype of a typical jock.
“He takes all the harder classes,” he said. “You wouldn’t necessarily expect that kind of person to excel in academics, but he does.”
By the time Blalock graduates from high school he’ll have taken 19 advanced classes, including his course load this semester which includes Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus, AP Government, AP Psychology and Honors English IV.
Ritchie said he wasn’t surprised to find out Blalock had received two nominations to attend West Point.
“Jamey is one of the few people that I would think anybody would want to come to their school,” he said. “There are few students in each class that are that kind of caliber, not just being academic, but athletic.”
When he’s not on the field, Blalock participates in the National Honor Society, Junior Civitans, Drafting Club and Spanish Club.
He’s also an active member of Shiloh Reformed Church’s youth group.
“I can’t say enough good things about him,” youth leader Luann Fesperman said. “He has really boosted our youth group and gotten it going.”
Fesperman said Blalock is more involved than his peers, going on mission trips and attending Sunday School regularly.
“He makes it a point to make it to church,” she said. “Just about anything that’s going on he’s there, which is kind of usual for a teenager.”
Blalock said he’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t get into West Point, but it’s been an honor just be nominated by Hagan and Coble.
And, he hasn’t let that recognition go to his head.
“I’m not the best at anything, but I feel like I’m pretty well rounded in most aspects. I’ve learned a lot regardless of whether I get in or not.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.