Cole Ballard | Senior | Elkhorn South High School
Football is a Ballard family tradition. Cole Ballard, a senior at Elkhorn South High School (ESHS), is following in the footsteps of his older brothers, Connor and Caden, by becoming a three-sport athlete (football, basketball, and track) as well as captain of his football team. What makes Ballard’s story unique is that both of his older brothers fought and survived leukemia (Connor at age five, Caden at age two). “We have a very unique bond,” he said. “I’m so proud of what they have accomplished, and even though they battled and defeated cancer, they still accomplished so much. Connor helped lead his team to Elkhorn South’s first State Championship in 2015 and Caden was part of the Championship team in 2016. Caden also played a big role in quickly making us competitive in Class A. The legacy I want to leave at Elkhorn South is really just to live up to the standard that my brothers set for me on the football field.”
Ballard’s coaches all agree that he puts his team first. Elkhorn South boys track coach Tim Ebers believes Ballard is a natural leader. “Cole is disciplined, steady, and has a toughness about him. He easily earns the respect of his teammates because of his work ethic and how he carries himself. Cole is extremely coachable and is eager to do what is best for the team.” Elkhorn South varsity basketball coach JJ Zumbrennen added, “Cole has been a crucial piece of the ESHS basketball program for the last four years because of the toughness and attitude he brings on a daily basis. He is one of the most selfless and confident leaders I have been around.”
Playing three sports has had its own challenges. “It isn’t easy, especially in terms of time management and balancing school with sports,” Ballard said. Despite the struggle, he’s kept a 4.1 GPA and is currently being recruited to play college football. “I’m very fortunate to have some really good scholarship opportunities, and I hope to play football in college. Along with football, I am hoping to pursue a career in medicine.”
Elkhorn South varsity football coach Guy Rosenberg said Ballard has earned the respect of his teammates and coaches. “Cole was voted Offensive MVP by his teammates as a sophomore and as a junior and he’s having an outstanding senior year so far. But Cole is about more than just stats; he’s about doing whatever it takes to help the team win.”
Ballard’s philosophy and approach to athletics is simple: “My motivation comes from a competitive edge that I developed when I was young,” he said. “I just love to compete and win.”
More stories like this one can be found at our Varsity Corner.