Athlete Profile: Megan Ballard

John Kelly

How do you top a junior season that included being named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year and leading your team to the finals of the league tournament? If you’re senior guard Megan Ballard, it was pretty easy.

The senior from Atlanta, GA, finished off her remarkable career by breaking not one, but two Colgate women’s basketball records. Ballard will leave Hamilton as the all-time record holder in both single-season and career steals. Besides cementing her place as one of the top defensive players in Raider history, this year Ballard also contributed on the offensive side of the ball by dishing out a team leading 91 assists and finishing second on the team with 11.9 points per game. In recognition of her solid senior campaign, Ballard was honored with a spot on the first-team Patriot League squad.

Yet, all this success should come as no surprise, since basketball runs in Ballard’s genes. Her older brother, Jeremy ’03, played basketball for four years at Colgate and is currently an assistant coach for the Raider men. Therefore, as a youngster growing up in Atlanta, basketball was always a family affair.

“During the summer, I used to wake up at 10 in the morning and head down to the playground with Jeremy to shoot some hoops.” Ballard said. “We’d always play against each other in tournaments and one-on-one games. Sometimes we’d stay down there all day and before we knew it the lights would be shutting off. Soon enough my mom started coming down to watch; it was a real family event.”

All her hard-work competing against her brother paid off, as Megan compiled a 130-12 record during her four seasons at North Atlanta High School. With her successful career, Ballard had interest from a number of colleges, but she decided to follow her brother to chilly Hamilton.

“My brother Jeremy is the main reason why I am here,” Ballard said. “His support and encouragement during my four years here has been incredible. He has been like my second coach.”

Since coming to Colgate, Ballard has played an instrumental role in transforming Colgate into a perennial contender in the Patriot League. She has been a stalwart on the defensive side of the ball, leaving Colgate with over 281 career thefts. Although these statistics are eye opening, head coach Kristin Hughes believes Ballard greatest contribution has been her attitude and hustle on the court.

“She lays it out there in every game and sets a great example through her defensive hustle,” Hughes said. “Megan is often an unsung hero on the team.”

Ballard’s best memory remains Colgate’s championship run during her sophomore year and the 2004 Patriot League championship game against American.

“Winning the championship during my sophomore year at Cotterell Court was amazing,” she said. “That night we broke the record for attendance and it seemed like everyone from the whole school was there to support us. After all the effort we put in as a team, we felt that we finally got the attention we deserved – and partying with everyone at night was fun too!”

Ballard will graduate from Colgate in a few weeks with degrees in religion and biology. However, graduation does not signal the end of her athletic career. She earned a spot on the United States National Handball team and she hopes to compete in the 2008 Olympics. With all her success on the basketball court, it should come as no surprise if Ballard walks away from Beijing with a medal.