TYNDALL — Joey Slama remembers two specific football dreams.
In the first, he wanted to lead Bon Homme High School to a state championship. And in the second, developed years later, he wanted to prove himself at the Division I level.
That first dream came true three months ago when Slama helped the Cavaliers capture the Class 9AA state title. And that second dream? It’s also come true.
Slama, a four-sport star and all-state defensive back at Bon Homme, signed Wednesday on National Signing Day to play football at South Dakota State — which has become an annual playoff qualifier at the Division I FCS level.
He’ll now have the opportunity to fulfill that second dream.
“When that became a reality, I knew I could actually do it,” Slama said Wednesday afternoon.
In addition to successful exploits in baseball, track and basketball, Slama was also a standout football player for the Cavaliers.
He led Bon Homme’s defense in tackles (75) and interceptions (6) as a senior, and also assumed the starting quarterback reins. All Slama did was combine for 3,088 all-purpose yards, with 967 rushing yards, 1,747 passing yards and 38 total touchdowns.
Slama was then named Most Valuable Player of the state championship game last November, when he helped Bon Homme rally past Kimball-White Lake for the title — the school’s first football championship since 1995.
That was the goal he set all those years ago when Slama would hang around Bon Homme football practices while his sisters served as team managers.
“He’s been a football junkie his whole life,” long-time Bon Homme head coach Byron Pudwill said Wednesday.
Ultimately, Slama had to decide if he would pursue basketball or football in college, but he said his first love eventually won out.
He went on a tour of the SDSU campus in Brookings last month and then announced his commitment last Thursday. It was the week between those events, however, that proved critical, according to Slama.
“After I went on the visit, I prayed about it and took some time to myself and talked to my parents,” he said. “We all decided it was the best place for me.”
Slama (a “safety/athlete”) was then one of 10 players announced Wednesday by SDSU, and one of four to be ‘accepted for admission’ (not on scholarship), which means he’ll have to work to earn a spot.
That’s not going to be a problem, though, for Slama, according to Pudwill.
No, Pudwill said Slama has the ability to “see past negatives,” just as he did in the state football championship game when Bon Homme dug itself a 20-0 hole after the first quarter. That capability to overcome challenges will come in handy once again up in Brookings, his coach said.
“It’s not going to be easy for any kid who became the big dog in the kennel,” Pudwill said. “And now he’ll be in a place where everyone was the big dog in the kennel.
“He has that ability to see that and recognize it, and I think his work ethic is going to put him over the top.”
It also helps when you have a competitive fire like Slama does, he said.
“I’ve always loved the aspect of competing against other athletes and working for your spot every day,” Slama said.
That’s a mindset he’s always had, he added.
“It helps when you have a group of friends like I do, where everything we do we’re trying to beat each other,” Slama said.
Slama still has the rest of the basketball season at Bon Homme, as well as track and then baseball, to worry about, but he’s still excited to prove himself at SDSU.
“I just can’t wait to get up there and work my butt off, and get on the field however I can,” Slama said.
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