Today we are beyond excited to introduce the 7th presenter for The 2016 Seminar, Randy Ballard. Randy was named Interim Director of Sports Medicine in December 2015 and Director of Integrated Performance in September 2015. He will oversee the collaborative efforts of I-Perform, which includes representation from the Sports Medicine, Strength & Conditioning and Sports Nutrition units to promote an integrated athletic department that provides student-athletes and teams with programming and resources for optimal performance, athletic development and global wellness.
Ballard is in his 13th season at Illinois, having worked as an athletics trainer for the volleyball, cross country and track and field teams. A 1999 graduate of Kansas State University, Ballard earned his master’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Texas in 2001.
The Concordia, Kan., native is no stranger to working with world-class athletes. Ballard has worked as an athletic trainer several times for the USA Track & Field teams. Most recently, he served as an athletic trainer for USA Track and Field at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
The previous year, Ballard was an athletic trainer for the 2007 U.S. Track & Field World Championships team in Osaka, Japan. He also served as the Head Athletic Trainer at the 2006 Cross Country World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.
He has also served as therapist for numerous Olympians and world champions including Perdita Felicien, Bershawn Jackson, and Lauren Williams.
Randy has a great interest and expertise in manual therapies and the rehabilitation aspects of the athletic training world. Having learned from numerous well-renowned therapists, Ballard brings a well-rounded skill set to the athletic training room. Along with being integral in the the therapy and rehabilitation aspects of sports medicine, Ballard helped develop the physical competency testing that the volleyball team uses to help assess and develop their training programming. Randy has also presented at several professional and coaching conferences on therapy, testing and rehabilitation topics.
Prior to Illinois, Ballard spent three seasons as a student athletic trainer for the Kansas State athletic program before moving to Texas. In Austin, Ballard worked primarily with the Longhorn football and men’s track and field programs.
JD: If you could, please give our readers a little background information about you, what your niche in the world of athletics is, accomplishments, how you got there, education, any products you have available and/or notable publications.
RB: I’m currently the Director of Integrated Performance and the Interim Director of Sports Medicine at the University of Illinois. I’ve been here 14 years and have been blessed to be allowed the freedom to adapt, evolve and pursue my passions as a professional. I came here straight out of graduate school and in that time I’ve evolved tremendously. The biggest key in this evolution is that I’ve been blessed to have been exposed to some tremendous mentors who have helped challenge and shape me as a professional and as a person. I often say that I’m nothing more than a pot of chili in which there are a lot of ideas, philosophies, and tools that have been added in over the years by chefs better than me. I just continue to let that chili simmer and see where it takes me.
JD: Discuss with us the mistakes you see made by strength and conditioning coaches in the United States and around the world, and what you feel should be done differently/how to correct these issues.
RB: I think one of the biggest mistakes that any professional can make is trying to live life on an island. To be successful, it takes a collaborative team. Unfortunately, over the last 40 years of college athletics, too many time there have been turf wars, egos, silos, and dissident between strength & conditioning, sports medicine, sports coaches, etc. This only hurts the athletes and makes life miserable in the trenches. We all have to view those around us as resources and work to collaborate and educate to be successful.
JD: What advice would you give a coach to improve knowledge in the lines of continuing education, meaning could you point our readers in a direction to find the scientific and practical information to improve the methods they use to improve performance?
RB: Right now there is a big push to pursue scientific literature and evidence based practice in performance fields and I’m all for that. However, as I reflect on things, and clearly see how important my interaction and education from mentors and colleagues has been to me, we can’t lose sight of those relationships. I think the biggest piece of advice would be to pursue wisdom. Wisdom comes from experience and knowledge so find those people who have greater experience and knowledge than you and build a relationship and start learning. I would also say, tell that mentor to be frank with you and give you honest feedback as that is crucially important as well.
JD: If you could give a brief description of what our attendees can expect from you at The Seminar?
RB: I think attendees can expect to hear a perspective that isn’t set in the sports medicine or strength & conditioning wheelhouse. It will be a talk that centers on the need for this collaboration, the need to drive education in our coaches and our athletes, and the need to do business differently in the 21st Currently, we have too many people trying to solve 21st century problems with 1985 models and solutions.
JD: Any closing thoughts Randy?
RB: I’m really excited for the opportunity to come out and be a part of what you have put together. I see this as another great learning opportunity to listen, dialogue, ask questions and grow as a professional. I’m looking forward to speaking, but more importantly to sharing and learning.
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