McKenzie brothers travel to San Jose
For a set of brothers from McKenzie, a trip to San Jose never crossed their mind. But, when Daniel and Jacob Ballard got the opportunity to make the cross-country jaunt with the Troy University Trojans, neither hesitated with their resounding answers of "Yes!"
Jacob, is currently a student a Troy University and is student trainer for the Trojans football. His younger brother, Daniel also is a sideline fixture for some of the Trojans' games, as he is a ball boy for the football team.
"I knew he was going about two weeks before he went out there," said Jacob. "He had asked me if I could get him on the sidelines."
Fate had a way of working out for the younger Ballard.
"Tony Ferrante, equipment manager for the Trojans found out that Daniel was making the trip," said Melissa Ballard, Daniel and Jacob's mom. "He asked him to be a ball boy on the field and that's how he got a bench pass."
The question that arose was how the younger Ballard was going to get out there. His brother Jacob, was a trainer for the football team. So he traveled with the Trojans and was going no matter what.
For Daniel however, there was still a question mark.
"Tony told him that if he could find he was out there, he could have a field pass," said Jacob. "Daniel found a way out there."
For Daniel his way to San Jose came thanks to his grandparents.
"Daniel flew with his grandparents out there," said Melissa. "About a week before Christmas they decided to take him to the bowl game and out there as a Christmas present."
"I was real surprised to go out there," said Daniel.
But, it wasn't exactly smooth sailing over to the west coast.
"It was scary at first, but I got used to it" said Daniel. "It was the first time I had ever flown too."
While Daniel was on the road to the west coast, the McKenzie Tiger basketball team was on their way to the Red Level Christmas Tournament.
"It wasn't a real tough decision about where he was going," said Melissa.
"He's not a starter for the Tigers and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for him. He was being part of history."
That history came on Dec. 30, when Troy University played in their first ever bowl game – The Silicon Valley Classic against Northern Illinois University.
"It was straight," said Daniel.
"Troy State showed some people that they could play and when they jumped on Northern Illinois 14-0 everyone thought it was going to be a blowout. But then they started making too many mistakes."
The Huskies were too much for the Trojans in the first ever meeting, posting a victory.
"One of the most exciting parts of the trip was being part of the game," said Jacob.
"But, the best part had to be the pre-game, just being around all the guys when they were excited and ready to play."
Jacob is a senior at Troy majoring in athletic training and plans to graduate in May.
Daniel is a sophomore at McKenzie High School.
His college path has yet to be determined.
"I'm going to push him to go to Troy," said Jacob.