The two girls walked in unison as they passed by the bleachers and headed toward the weight room. Their track practice had ended just moments before, but their day was far from being complete.
“Ballard!,” one of the girls called out at the weight room door.
Stan Ballard pushed the door open, greeted the two runners and gave them the day’s rundown.
It’s light weight on legs today, he said. Light. You have a meet tomorrow.
Immediately, the two get to the weight bar and begin setting up for squats.
Ballard has become a fixture in the Bayside High School weight room. Each week, he spends roughly three to four days working with the school’s athletes, crafting personal weightlifting programs to enhance their game/skillsets.
“I had no idea I would enjoy it so much,” Ballard said. “I’m a firm believer in the importance in staying in shape, both for the physical and emotional benefit, and enjoy sharing the fit lifestyle with the kids.”
Ballard is the first to admit that he is an advocate for strength conditioning in the weight room. He has earned fitness credentials through the National Strength and Conditioning Association that qualify him to work on college level training staffs.
His work at Bayside began almost five years ago when his son, Matthew, then a student-athlete playing soccer for the school, was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease. He was hospitalized for six weeks.
During this time, Matthew’s soccer coach, Steve Belechak, came to visit and check in on Matthew. There, he struck up a conversation with Ballard about his conditioning background. He wanted to know if there would be any interest on helping out his teams.
The rest is history.
“I love working with young athletes,” Ballard said. “It’s just fun seeing their progress through their careers.”
In fact, for Bayside graduates who go on to complete in college, Ballard will work with their coaches to help implement their training programs during the summer to keep them in shape over winter and summer breaks.
However, Ballard’s imprint on Bayside goes well beyond his training duties.
Ballard also takes time out of his schedule to work with students on how they can transition to post-graduation life. He reviews with students how to strength train after their high school days and enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle, but he also helps them look at career options and education paths that could benefit their future.
“Most are surprised when they learn that I am a civil engineer and am on the tail end of a 35-plus year career,” he said, “which leads to discussions about both (civil engineering) and fitness related fields.”
Plus, Ballard, a master of the ukulele, also throws down the musical gauntlet for students.
“I do have a couple of musicians that I train,” Ballard said. “I read music and develop my own arrangements for the ukulele. When the weather warms up, we’re planning to bring our instruments and jam outside after weight training.”
This level of dedication to students is obvious to all who watch Ballard at work.
“I personally have the highest respect for Coach Ballard,” said David Kidd, Bayside’s cross country coach. “He is committed to Bayside and shows genuine concern for every athlete he encounters. He is constantly challenging the students to improve themselves as young adults.”
To find ways you can get involved, visit the division’s Get Connected page at vbschools.com/getconnected and find volunteer opportunities available in VBCPS schools. For more information about the Volunteers in Education program as a whole, visit the page to learn more about the service of VBCPS volunteers.