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Ballard earns Bryant-Jordan award

McKenzie athletes are no strangers to academic honors, historically speaking, and 2015 is looking no different.

McKenzie senior Ashley Ballard was named the Class 1A Region 2 winner of the Bryant-Jordan Student Athlete Program.

The program was created in 1986 by the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in conjunction with the Alabama High School Athletic Association. It is supervised by the Board of Directors of the Bryant-Jordan Foundation. The objectives of the program are to recognize and honor Alabama students who have by ability and effort achieved a level of excellence in the areas of academics and athletics that is commensurate with their potential; to make aware to not only athletes but all segments of the student population that it is both important and rewarding for them to strive to be the best that they can be; and to encourage and promote the involvement and commitment of Alabama corporations and individuals in helping improve the academic levels of all students.

Since the ninth grade, Ballard has been a member of the McKenzie Varsity Cheerleading squad and the Lady Tigers Basketball team. She has been a member of the Lady Tigers Varsity Softball team since the seventh grade.

Despite the number of extracurricular activities she participates in, Ballard said that she had one clear favorite.

“Softball is my favorite extracurricular activity because of the intensity and thrill that comes with just playing the game,” Ballard said.

“The teamwork and effort put in by all the players and coaches makes the game so easy to love. My softball team is my school family and we stick together no matter what.”

Ballard is also a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and was the 2014 representative for McKenzie High School for Alabama’s Girls State.

She has been elected an All-American cheerleader the last four years along with receiving captain’s award several of those years.

Ballard has also received awards for softball such as Best All Around Player, Highest GPA for the team, and the Offensive MVP for 2014.

Ballard is also a member of several of the organizations at McKenzie High School. She is involved in the Student Government Association, Senior Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta, Future Farmers of America, Future Business Leaders of America, Scholars Bowl, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Science Club, Math Team and National Honor Society. In addition to her studies, Ballard is also very active in her church youth group as a member of McKenzie Baptist Church Puppet Ministry.

She plans to attend Troy University in the fall and remains undecided on a major.

At Troy, she aims to make academics a priority, but said she wouldn’t let a chance to partake in her favorite sport slip by.

“At this point in my life, I’m not planning on pursuing a collegiate career because my academics will be my main focus,” Ballard said.

“However, if the opportunity to play softball presents itself, then I would consider the opportunity and make my decision then,” she said. “As a student and a player you never throw an opportunity away. You should always take them one at a time and make the best of them.”

Ballard will now compete against the other region winners for the state scholarships. The banquet and the announcing of the state winners will be in the spring.