FEATURE: Springfield Republican On Lacrosse's Tim Balise
May 7, 2009
By RON CHIMELIS
AMHERST - It stands to reason that a psychology major with a 4.0 grade-point average knows something about the human mindset, and Tim Balise is no exception.
For starters, he knows himself.
"I'm really hard on myself," said Balise, whose University of Massachusetts men's lacrosse team plays at Princeton Sunday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
"I get down on myself, and I have to remember to relax," he said. "To a point."
Driven to excel, the Minnechaug Regional graduate from Wilbraham takes a remarkable portfolio into UMass' first NCAA tournament appearance since 2006, when he was a freshman reserve on the nation's runner-up team.
Balise has 80 career goals, including 30 this year. Five goals, including the winner in overtime, came in last week's 11-10 victory at Rutgers.
The overtime goal was the senior attackman's 100th career point. It clinched the ECAC league title and an NCAA berth for UMass (9-5), which faces a tall order in No. 4-seeded Princeton (12-2), a traditional power playing a faster, more transitional game than it has in the past.
"We definitely can't take bad shots and make turnovers," Balise said. "We have to control the ball. The best defense might be a good offense."
Balise was an Academic All-American as a junior, and will likely be selected this year, too. As a player, he was a 2009 All-ECAC choice, and UMass coach Greg Cannella said his scoring touch makes him a pro prospect.
What impresses Cannella most about Balise, though, is not what he has done, but how he has done it.
"We saw his intensity when he was at Minnechaug," Cannella said. "He had great ability, but a lot of guys with great ability don't make it, because they don't have the fire like he does.
"It's 24/7 with him as far as leadership and being a role model goes."
At times, Cannella has worried about whether his senior captain tries to be too perfect.
"He's such a hard worker, and so intense," the coach said. "I've sometimes asked him, are you having fun, Timmy? Are you enjoying yourself?"
"He says yep, I'm having fun, a blast. But he probably wouldn't tell me either way, because he doesn't want anybody to worry about him.
"Hurt? He'll say, I'm fine, coach. Down a little bit? I'm fine, coach."
Balise has five hat tricks this season and 11 in his career. He has scored 19 goals in his last seven games.
His scoring in the classroom has been even more dazzling.
"He has never received any grade less than an A in college," Cannella said. "You look at him, and he's amazing."
"I'm not perfect," said Balise, who chose his psychology major as a path to ultimately help people, and who plans to attend graduate school.
"I still leave things to the last minute," he said, almost as a confessional. "If my time management is OK, it's because I have no choice."
But even if Balise is not perfect, Cannella says he comes a lot closer than most.
"It's good to see someone like Timmy succeed, because you know how much it means to him," the coach said. "He understands what it takes, which is why he'll succeed, at whatever he chooses to do."