By Michael Rich
Two more standouts were inducted into Big Walnut High School’s Wall of Fame in a ceremony before Friday night’s 29-7 loss to New Albany in Sunbury.
Nick Heiden, a 2009 graduate of Big Walnut, started 42 consecutive games for the football team. The Golden Eagles went 35-7 during that span.
“I was kind of surprised about it when I was called by the athletic director (Brian Shelton) letting me know that they were going to induct me,” he said. “I was a three-sport athlete and I knew I was a good athlete, but we were so good — especially at football — that it was more about the team. I didn’t really think of myself like that.”
He earned seven letters as a three-sport athlete, earning varsity letters for three years in football and baseball and one letter in basketball. He was All-Central District and All-OCC in 2008 and 2009, was the OCC Player of the Year in 2008 and a National Scholar Athlete that same year.
“When I was a senior, yeah, I was more of a standout, but us being the way we were – we had such good players that it was just an expected atmosphere to be good,” he said.
“All of these accolades are great, but none of these compare to the quality of individual he is,” Shelton said during the pregame ceremony.
Heiden’s two interceptions in the final quarter helped seal Big Walnut’s state title in 2007 — a game he played with a 102-degree temperature.
“I just remember feeling absolutely terrible,” Heiden said. “I had full body aches and a temperature the night before and really looked like I was in a bad spot. I knew that I wanted to play. I did everything that I could — like all of the homemade remedies.
“I just wanted to play on the big stage,” he continued. “I ended up playing and made a couple of big plays.”
“Nick was known for making big plays in big moments,” Shelton said.
Matty Bale, 36, a 1998 graduate of Big Walnut and the football team’s equipment manager since his freshman year in 1995, was also inducted.
Bale started as an equipment manager in the eighth grade at Big Walnut Middle School under coach Rex Sponhaltz.
Sponhaltz asked him to join him at the high school the next year and when coach left to move to North Carolina, he asked Scott Weitzel to keep him on the team.
Bale was also named a captain on the football team his senior year and he decided to stay on after graduation.
He only weighed 1 pound, 3 ounces when he was born at University Hospital Oct. 20, 1978. Infants his size often didn’t survive.
Bale has been involved with his church, the Sunbury Christian Church, since he was 11 years old. He is an avid car fan, attending auto shows with his father Jerry, and owns a red 1985 Firebird convertible.
He belongs to the Access to Recreation Group and has worked in the cafeteria at Otterbein University for the last 15 years.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.