Former Bartlesville High School kicker Jalen Belong headed to premier D-I program

Jalen Belong, right, was a multi-year standout for the Bartlesville High School boys soccer team.
Jalen Belong, right, was a multi-year standout for the Bartlesville High School boys soccer team.

Whether or not beavers and bruins have some kind of ancestral link is for scientific community to theorize.

But, one thing is for certain — former Bartlesville High boys student-athlete Jalen Belong has definitely made a gigantic leap forward in terms of soccer evolution.

Just a year-and-a-half after he last played for the Bruins of Bartlesville High, the smooth-gliding, quick-as-a-darting-eagle and battle-honed-dynamo is set to play for one of the nation’s ultra elite Division I men’s soccer programs at Oregon State.

One might say Belong is focused on being an eager Beaver.

Oregon State — whose mascot is the Beavers — came up just shy last season of competing for the NCAA-I national title. The Beavers soccer powerhouse earned the No. 1 seed, advanced to the Final Four and finished with a 14-2-4 record.

The Beavers now welcome Belong’s set of skills and experience to the mix.

But, Belong’s journey to Corvallis, Ore., has not been an easy one — albeit he took the scenic tour.

He starred for about two-and-a-half-years for Bartlesville High — from his freshman season (2019) through partway in his junior year (2021). In March 2021, Belong relocated to Frisco, Texas, in order to train and play with the U19FC Dallas Academy Team.

He played for more than a year with that club, providing him the chance to travel throughout the nation and playing other MLS Academy teams. Earlier this month, Belong’s team advanced it to the MLS NEXT Cup U19 semifinals.

“Whenever I went to Dallas I had to leave my family,” Belong said. “I had to make a lot of sacrifices. But, it was nice knowing they’re always supporting me and watching every single on of my games and always ready to call me after the games and knowing they’re doing everything they can to help me be here. It was a great motivation.”

While playing for the Dallas team, Belong lived in housing open to MLS Next Academy Players and also finished his senior year by graduating from Lonestar High School.

Next up, Belong — a native Bartian — will plant his college roots at Oregon State, located in Corvallis, Ore. Like many unforeseen connections in life, Belong happened to be in the right spot to draw Oregon State’s attention.

“It was around June 2021 and I was playing with the team in Dallas,” Belong said. “They just happened to be at one of my games. I scored some great goals in which I drove through four or five players. … They kept in contact. They were definitely very interest in me, which is something I appreciated.”

As a bonus, Belong has family members that live in that region of the nation, including his grandparents who reside in Washington, just seven hours away from Corvallis. Belong visited OSU last fall.

“The weather there is beautiful. … The tree leaves were just changing colors,” he said.

Belong understands about changing and adaptation. During his first two seasons at Bartlesville, he played mainly a defensive role.

“I was doing what the team needed, anything I could do to help the team,” Belong said.

But, for his subsequent teams, he’s moved up to the offensive half as a striker/winger.

“They plan to use me as a left-winger,” Belong said about OSU.

Playing against high-level national competition the past year-and-a-half has prepared Belong to the next step.

“I think it definitely helped me grow up a lot,” he said. “I learned about the intensity and speed of the game, plus there was a lot of opportunity to visit new places.”

Belong feasted on a chance to play pro and national teams.

“I think it was a great experience to see that level I needed to get to,” he said. “It helped me improve my game a lot.”

With the World Cup set to be played in 2026 on the North American continent, Belong is excited about future aspirations.

“I want to play on our national team and play professionally,” he said.

But, beyond the potential to achieve his dreams on the soccer field, Belong is driven by giving younger people an ideal to follow.

“I want to try to be a good role model,” he said. “I’m just glad I get to be a good example to a lot of younger kids playing the sport.”

He wants to prove that a kid coming out of Bartlesville can realize big ambitions.

“You’ve just got to work hard and continue pursuing your dream,” he said.

He singled out his father Jordan Belong as someone who has been a good role model for younger players and for encouraging them that “anything is possible, you just have to keep working your hardest.”

Jalen also enjoys tremendous support from his mother Rachael, who in an email to the E-E about Jalen’s signing with Oregon State, described herself as her oldest son’s “number one fan.”

This article originally appeared on Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise: Former Bartlesville soccer star Jalen Belong to play for Oregon State