Camas High School Senior Jacques Badolato-Birdsell has had one of most successful high school football careers in Papermaker history. Despite picking up a football for the first time in eight grade, he has emerged as a D1-caliber running back. Badolato-Birdsell announced on October 30th that he committed to play football next season at the University of Nevada-Reno.
By no means has Badolato-Birdsell’s high school football experience been a breeze. As a sophomore, he started and played both ways on varsity. Last year he was on pace to rush for a 2,000-yard season before he hurt his ankle against Sumner High School.
He said, “My high school experience has been pretty exciting. There’s been ups and downs to it. Overall, a great experience.”
Badolato-Birdsell joins the long list of Papermaker football players to play at the collegiate level, including teammate and close friend, CHS Senior Jake Blair, who recently committed to Oregon State University.
CHS football Head Coach Jon Eagle said about Badolato-Birdsell, “He has grit. He has great passion and perseverance.”
Blair said, “He’s super humbled and hard working. To our team, he’s a guy that myself and our teammates look up to.”
Badolato-Birdsell attributes the success of the Papermaker program to everyone buying in and listening to the coaches.
“Coach Eagle and all those coaches buy into [it] every day. All we have to do is listen to them and take their wisdom and do what we do best,” Badolato-Birdsell said.
He also mentioned that the team has a strong culture, which is like something he has never experienced before.
“It’s just different, culture-wise. It’s just a different vibe,” he said.
Badolato-Birdsell described how most of the players have been playing together since they were young, and how the tight bond can be seen by their performance on the field.
“Most of these guys that I play with, like last year, they’ve been playing with each other for a long time and they’ve known each other since they were young,” he said.
Badolato-Birdsell is very thankful for the great coaching staff at CHS.
“They have impacted me in many ways, not just as a football player, but as a person. As I see it, football is great, of course, there’s more to football. There’s more to life than just football. You’ve got to be realistic, like once you reach a certain point you’ve got to know if football is going to be it or if you’re going to have to move on to something else. You just have to know how to fill roles and see the bigger picture,” he said.
After an incredible junior season terrorizing the best defenses in the state and winning a 4A state championship, Badolato-Birdsell started to receive interest from colleges.
He said, “Last season, in the beginning, I got hit up by several schools, but no one offered anything. I’m pretty sure my first offer was about a month after the state game.”
“Also with Covid and everything going on, I don’t want to keep options open too much because you don’t know when it’s (coronavirus) going to end. I don’t know what’s going to get thrown in the mix again with everything happening so I just decided to commit early and just take Nevada. Nevada’s a good school, not just athletic wise, but also academic wise it suits me pretty well. I’m ready for that journey,” Badolato-Birdsell said.
Nevada also appealed to him because their program likes to run the ball. He and his family thought that it would be the right fit for him.
“Offense wise, they like to run the ball a lot. I’m a running back, and of course, I want to have the ball in my hands,” he said.
Badolato-Birdsell has yet to tour the campus, but he hopes to visit during the upcoming holiday breaks.
CHS football coach Allen Jones said, “I had a couple different emotions when Jacques called me and told me he was committing. To start I was so happy for him and his family. I know the hundreds of hours he poured into becoming a D1 RB and I know he was a little frustrated that things were kind of slow for him recruiting wise, so when that offer from Nevada came in it was a big deal.”
Jones added, “I was really proud of him, to be honest, to fulfill a childhood dream is such a cool thing.”
Blair said, “My initial reaction to hearing about his commitment was excitement. Knowing how hard he works was super cool to see him commit.”
The challenges presented by the coronavirus have not stopped Badolato-Birdsell from getting better this offseason. His goal this season is to break the school record in rushing yards and touchdowns.
He said, “I just got to prove myself.”
“We’ve all been working out at Jake’s crib and lifting there. Since Covid that’s one thing that brings everyone together. I feel like you’re going to notice that on the field. Guys are going to be clicking,” Badolato-Birdsell said.
CHS Senior and teammate Gabe Guo said, “Jacques leads with his actions. Not only is he one of the hardest workers in the weight room and on the field, but also his competitiveness sets the bar high for everyone on the team. He always brightens the mood whether it’s game-day, road trips, or morning workouts. Jacques still has so much potential in football and I’m super excited to see him play at Nevada!”
Blair said, “He’s a true leader to our team. He leads both by example and vocally. Not only is he a leader on the field, but he’s also a leader off the field. He’s always encouraging teammates and doing the right thing outside of football. He also works hard in the classroom.”
Badolato-Birdsell said that the program wants to retain its title as the best in the state.
“We’re trying to defend the title, back to back,” he said.
If there is or is not a season, there is no doubt that Badolato-Birdsell will leave a lasting legacy on the Camas community. His tremendous work ethic, character, and commitment will continue to inspire the younger generation of football players.
Jones said, “When Jacques finally graduates from Camas there’s gonna be so many little kids who say they wanna play RB for Camas and they’re going to want to wear number two and they’re going to want to be like Jacques Badolato-Birdsell. That’s the kind of legacy he will leave here at Camas and within our football program, he’s going to be a player and athlete that’s talked about for decades and decades here in the Camas community.”
Eagle said, “Legacy? He’s not done yet. Ask me in 7 months!”
“Being one of our best players and the best running back in the state carries a lot of attention, and he handles that very well,” said Blair.
Badolato-Birdsell is very thankful for the large support team that has gathered behind him over the years.
He said, “I got to say thanks Camas, thanks to my family, thanks to all my friends that have been supporting me since day one, thanks to the homies, thanks to everyone who’s always got my back no matter what, and Nevada here we go. Wolf pack out.”