C.J. Eldred was a standout on the Ballard football team. The 18-year-old senior captain played several positions last season and in his four-year career with the Beavers and last December, he was nominated as a Hall of Fame scholar-athlete at Qwest Field.
But for now Eldred’s football career is probably over — save for intramurals in college.
“I already miss it,” he said. “Especially now that the underclassmen are working out for next season.”
But Eldred has another passion to fill the void: musical theater.
Ever since earning the lead role of Sky Masterson in Ballard’s performance of “Guys and Dolls” his sophomore year, Eldred has been hooked to the stage. Junior year he played Doody and Teen Angel in “Grease” and this year he’ll play Archibald Craven in the school’s spring performance of “The Secret Garden.”
Outside of school, Eldred played Diesel in “West Side Story” last year and the male lead of Troy Bolton in “High School Musical” earlier this month through Village Theatre in Issaquah.
Last weekend, he auditioned for the music and theater program at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.
“It’s a dream of mine to someday be a professional,” said Eldred, who has also started a barbershop quartet at Ballard.
Eldred wrestled in school as a freshman and advanced to the KingCo tournament, but admittedly didn’t have much fun. Wrestling didn’t have the same team atmosphere as football and theater.
In fact, Eldred has noticed a lot of similarities between his two passions.
“They definitely relate a lot, particularly the family attitude in both,” he said. “In theater, everyone works together for the performance. On a football team, everyone is working together to win the game.
“Both are a lot about teamwork and keeping the show going. With the team, you got to trust a linebacker to have his gap, just like you have to trust your fellow actors. Also if you don’t get the role you want in theater, it’s like when things aren’t going your way in football.”
And as one career for Eldred has come to an end (football), it appears another glowing one might just be starting.
Photo courtesy of Alice Heck Kelly.