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5 Apr 2017

Q & A with Louisville City FC’s Richard Ballard

Author: Kristen Wallace  /  Categories: Uncategorized  /  Rate this article:
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The third season of professional soccer in Louisville kicked off this past weekend with Louisville City FC earning a draw with Saint Louis FC. For those of you that follow club and high school soccer in the Louisville area, there was a familiar face in the starting eleven. Former Mockingbird SC (now Kentucky Fire Juniors) stand-out, Richard Ballard, lined up on the right wing for his hometown club in the first match of his professional career and did not disappoint. 

Before earning his first professional cap, Ballard answered a few questions about growing up in the Louisville soccer community and offered some advice to younger players hoping to see themselves don the Louisville City FC kit in the future. 

 

When did you start playing soccer? Did you play any other sports growing up?

I started playing soccer when I was 3 years old for HYR. Then I played for JYSA where my dad coached me until I made it onto the U9B team at Mockingbird when I was 7. I also played basketball and tennis growing up.

 

What was it like growing up playing soccer in Louisville?

Growing up playing soccer in Louisville was a great experience. We definitely didn’t have the best resources, playing on some fields with divits and grass up to your mid-calf. I’ve played on almost every field and park in the city, but it only made me that much more appreciative of where I come from. There was only club soccer in Louisville and Kentucky so I played for the best one, Mockingbird, my whole time. There was a lot of talented players in Louisville though so it made for a good soccer community and competitive atmosphere.  

 

You played your college soccer at Indiana. What made you chose IU? What are some of the highlights from your college career?

I chose IU because of their incredible soccer history and tradition. My last coach at Mockingbird, John Michael Hayden, played and won 2 national championships with them so I knew all about the program and how prestigious it was. When I was invited to a training session for the top 50 players in the region, it was held at IU’s indoor facility Mellencamp. After that I had gotten an email from them saying they were interested and I immediately wanted to go there and nowhere else. I knew it was going to be a challenge playing for them but I wanted to and go to play for the best. Some highlights from my career would be playing in and winning a National Championship and Big ten All-Freshman Team my freshman year. On to my senior year where I was a captain and second-team All-Big Ten. Another highlight would be beating the U-20 Mexican national team my senior Spring and getting an assist and goal in the 2-0 victory. 

 

What advice would you give youth soccer players on preparing for college soccer?

First, I would tell them to train harder. No matter how hard they think they are training, or how good they think they are, there is someone better out there and training harder who is competing for your spot. I would tell them to prepare themselves to not be the best anymore and to let that motivate you to work harder. Every player coming to a D1 school is going to be the best from there team so you will be fighting for a spot against the best players in the nation and sometimes overseas as well. I would tell them that they need to be physically prepared because you will be playing against guys 4-5 years older than you and potentially much bigger and stronger. I think a big one is for kids to understand how important good diet and good sleep is for them and can make or break their career. I would tell them to be mentally prepared for anything. It will be a new coach, new team, new lifestyle but to always keep you love and passion for the game. Lastly, I would tell them to watch more soccer. Kids are playing too many video games and watching the wrong shows when they should be studying the game and taking advantage of any chance they can to get better. I know I wished I would have trained more and watched more soccer.

 

You recently signed with Louisville City FC. How does it feel to be the first hometown player to sign with Louisville City FC?

It’s an incredible feeling. Once I found out we were getting a pro team a couple years back I was extremely excited. When I went to my first game I was even more amazed by the support from the Louisville community and was very hopeful for the future of the team. To be able to play in front of my hometown crowd will be an unbelievable feeling. I know my family just as happy because they’re all in town and get to come out to the games and support. To be the first hometown player is a great feeling and I hope it drives the youth to want to do the same. I know Louisville has and continues to produce some of the best talent in the nation so I’m sure we have future Louisville City FC players in the making. I think the youth should understand what an incredible opportunity it is to have a pro team here and take advantage of the situation.

 

What are you most looking forward to during your first year with Louisville City FC?

I’m looking forward to bringing home a championship just as I was in my first year at IU. I know how we did last year and the talent we have this year makes me look forward to the trophy.

 

What are your goals for your soccer career? Any plans for life after soccer?

My goals are to play and win championships at the highest levels possible. The next step is to make it to the MLS or play overseas and continue to enjoy the game playing at the highest level possible. Really, I just want to play the game I love for as long as possible. Plans for life after soccer are really just plans once I’m done playing. Soccer is my life and I don’t think it will leave my life. I plan on coaching some but in the future focusing on the strength and conditioning, nutritional, and physiological aspects of the game. I want to help bring out the best and maximize the potential in the youth today. 

 

Any final words of wisdom that you’d want to pass on to the next generation of KFJ/Mockingbird SC players looking to take their game to the next level?

I would tell them to never settle. Even when you think you are the best and you think you have trained enough, train more. If you want to take your game to the next level then you need to take your training and lifestyle to the next level. Be committed to the game and never settle for less than you are capable. In the midst of all that, I would tell them to enjoy it. Love the game and stay passionate for it.

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