By: Kevin Ruple
BEREA, Ohio – 2015 Baldwin Wallace University graduate Ben Deighton is going to get his chance to live out a dream of playing professional athletics when he signed a contract to be the placekicker for the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League. But Deighton's path to playing pro football is a bit unusual.
First, Deighton, who majored in management and marketing at BW, played and lettered for four years in soccer. He scored 20 goals and had six assists and led the Yellow Jackets to an NCAA Division III National Tournament appearance in 2012. BW was 40-33-8 during his career. Following his graduation from BW in the spring of 2015, he set his sights on trying to play one season of college football.
Deighton hoped to walk on and had several NCAA Division I tryouts at schools such as The Ohio State University, Michigan State University and Penn State University, but ultimately ended up at Eastern Kentucky University where he served as a kickoff specialist.
Again Deighton was left looking for a home and tried out for several National Football League and AFL teams but did not get a contract right away. So this fall, he did what most student-athletes do after they graduate and exhaust their attempts at "the dream", he got a job working for Cleveland sports legend, "the Godmother of Sport Management", Buffy Filipell of TeamWork Online, the first recruiting company to focus on sports executive recruiting.
He will get his first opportunity as a pro this Saturday, April 22 when the Gladiators play the Tampa Bay Storm in a game that will be telecast by the CBS Network.
"I tried out for the Gladiators earlier this year and didn't miss a kick," said Deighton, who grew up in Akron and graduated from Revere High School. "Both Drew Basil from Ohio State and I were perfect, but they decided to sign Drew. At the end of the tryout, they told me I was the back up and to be ready if I get a call."
When Basil pulled his groin muscle, it opened the door for Deighton to have his shot.
"I was walking into work and I got the call," said Deighton. "It was exciting. But then I had to sit down with Buffy so we could work things out so I don't have to leave TeamWork and can kick for the Glads [Gladiators].
"I am taking it day-by-day," said Deighton, who admitted that he had not been working out as hard as when he was competing at a number of the recent tryouts. "But I have kept myself fit and I'm ready to contribute to the Gladiators first win of the season on Saturday in Tampa."
Deighton continues to work at TeamWork where he manages accounts and client services. Some of his accounts include teams from the MSL (Major Soccer League), NHL (National Hockey League), NBA (National Basketball Association), including the CAVS.
"What I'm really looking forward to is the next two weekends when we play at the Q," said Deighton. "A few weeks ago I had to go to a game with my girlfriend and two others (including Deighton's BW classmate and teammate Andrew Preis '16) to see what it was like just in case I got the call. I guess it worked out!"