Athlete of the Week: Kristen Ballard

Rachel Smith

Staff Writer

More sleep, healthier eating, harder training and less stress can lead to an athlete’s “best season ever,” according to senior Kristen Ballard. This simple formula has led Ballard to what has been her most productive season running track for Transylvania’s track and field team. This season has been represented by big changes for Ballard, who traded in two hurdle races for flat races.

“Switching from hurdles to flat races has definitely changed my ability to contribute to the team,” Ballard said. “I found out I am a lot faster when I’m not jumping over obstacles as tall as myself.”

According to head coach Heidi Pinkerton, Ballard’s adjustment has paid off. Pinkerton said Ballard has had a “phenomenal” year, setting personal records in every race so far. She added that she can easily see Ballard shaving full seconds off of her current records by the end of the season.

Senior Kristen Ballard switched to flat races from hurdles, which has helped her become a top competitor for the Pioneers.

“The team voted for Kristen to be one of the team captains at the beginning of the year, and I know the team made the right choice,” Pinkerton said. “Kristen is full of life and bubbly. She is a joy to have on the team, with a positive attitude and a hard work ethic. She always is supportive of her teammates and helps get them in the zone and hardly ever complains.”

This diligence has been infectious, as the team has been performing well in recent meets, despite being in just its fourth season. Pinkerton said that much of this success is due to Ballard’s leadership.

“Kristen has become a leader for the team,” Pinkerton said. “She is dedicated to what she does and is always striving to be better. She has become a positive influence for the younger girls on the team.”

But, according to Ballard, keeping a positive spirit is no challenge with Transy’s team.

“We always say that the best part about our team is that we have so much fun together,” Ballard said. “Even though our team is still young, we have a blast at meets.”

Ballard has used this supportive environment to help her become a student-athlete who balances her studies and athletics.

“I balance school and athletics by simply doing both,” Ballard said. “It is tough at Transy because there is this trap of competing about who is most involved, sleep-deprived and stressed about their to-do list. This year I have tried to stay away from that battle, and when I do, I find myself more productive and happier.”

The track and field teams compete next this Saturday at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky., beginning at 11 a.m.

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