116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
PELLA – Blade Durbala admits some players may have been bigger, faster and even stronger.
The self-proclaimed “gym rat” relied on his passion for working out and weight training to close the gap on more naturally-talented athletes.
“For me personally, it’s been huge,” Durbala said. “I would say coming up in high school and college I don’t think I was the most gifted physically, but through effort and work in the weight room. On the field, I’ve been able to make up some of that ground.”
Durbala has become a staple on Central College’s defensive line and has earned national recognition the last two weeks from d3football.com. Durbala and the Dutch will conclude the spring season with a non-scored scrimmage with Buena Vista Saturday at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium.
Central has played all of its schedule games without any COVID-19 related interruptions and Durbala appreciates the chance to return to the field after the canceled fall season.
“Every day is a blessing and we’re not sure we’re going to be able to go out the next day,” Durbala said. “I think everybody has an understanding of what we’re trying to work for. We’ve been really grateful to have all these opportunities to play.”
The 6-foot-1, 285-pounder began training before he attended Benton Community. His love for the weight room blossomed during high school, learning from strength and conditioning coach Dave Frazier and getting pushed by his workout partners.
Strength and conditioning programs influenced his college choice and he found a similar environment at Central. Durbala has flourished, holding the school’s bench (475 pounds) and squat (760) records. He owns a 390 hang clean max out.
“I love every aspect of it,” Durbala said. “I love all parts of training. I would say I’m probably one of those that just loves to be there.”
Doing enough is not enough for Durbala, who earned All-American Rivers Conference honors and was named third-team All-West Region in 2019. The three-time Dutch varsity letterwinner doesn’t believe in doing the bare minimum and is driven by being the best he can be.
“Your skills and your talent can only take you so far,” Durbala said. “You really need the work ethic to take you to the place you want to be.
“I try to attack every day, every training session, practice and doing drills outside of practice or outside of season. I really make myself the best football player I can be. I think it’s huge. I don’t think you can just show up and just do the work that is required. That won’t take you to the place you want to be. It’s the extra stuff outside of what’s expected.”
Humility and a team-first attitude is evident. Durbala was quick to credit his teammates when asked about his notable performances against Simpson and Nebraska Wesleyan. Against the Prairie Wolves, Durbala was named to d3football.com Team of the Week with four tackles, 1.5 for loss, a forced fumble and blocked extra point.
In a 49-14 win over the rival Storm, Durbala tallied three sacks with five total tackles for the same honor and ARC Defensive Player of the Week.
“It’s a rivalry game so there is always a little extra fuel to the fire,” Durbala said. “I was excited to play. It had been 18 months or so since I was able to pad up and play a game.
“As far as my performance, I couldn’t do any of that by myself. Our coaches did a great job with our game plan and a lot of other guys around me were making good plays that allowed me to do some of the things I did. It wasn’t I did this. It was we did this.”