Brad Ballinger has wanted to be the athletic director with the Blanchester schools for more than 15 years.
When the position came open following the resignation of Bryan Pennix, Ballinger said it wasn’t a slam dunk decision to apply.
“Timing was an issue with so much uncertainty going on in the world right now,” said Ballinger, who officially was hired as the AD at Monday’s regular meeting of the Blanchester Board of Education. “Plus, I love my job as 4th-8th physical education teacher and middle school basketball and track coach. It took some prodding to get me to apply. I talked with my family and decided that right timing or not, I was going to put in for it. If I didn’t apply, there is no certainty that this position would be open again anytime soon.”
Ballinger is a 2001 graduate of Blanchester High School and a 2006 graduate of Wright State University. He received his master’s degree from Xavier University and has been employed with the district for the last 14 years.
“Mr. Ballinger is a very organized individual who has a passion for students and student athletes and will fit in well with our administrative team. His connection with the community will be an asset for athletic department,” said superintendent Dean Lynch.
Ballinger said coaching made the transition to athletic director more difficult.
“I love coaching,” he said. “I put a lot of time and energy into it, and I love being in the gym with my team every day. That was part of the reason that I hesitated to apply. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to give up that part of my life.”
Ballinger has prepared himself for this post for a number of years.
”Blanchester is the only place I have ever wanted to be,” said Ballinger. “I grew up here, I have lived here all of my adult life and I love this community. Athletics have always been a huge part of my life and being the AD here has been a long term goal of mine as far back to when I was choosing a major in college. When I began teaching and coaching I tried to take on responsibilities (coaching multiple sports, event managing, youth basketball board member/president) that could give me experience that could help me prepare for this job if it became available some day.”
As AD, Ballinger said his No. 1 job is “to instill good values into our young people through athletics. For most of our athletes, competitive sports will end after high school, but the life lessons that they can learn through participation can help them be successful throughout their lives, in whichever arena they choose to pursue. Just like in life, there are highs and lows in sports and our students need to learn to handle these appropriately,” he said.
The SBAAC has helped Ballinger, and others, with a professional development opportunity for coaches last summer.
”It got me to think about what I wanted to see from my athletes on the court, in practice and in the classroom,” he said. “From that, I came up with “GO WILD” (because we are the Wildcats) as our rallying cry for this past middle school basketball season. WILD standing for WORK, INTEGRITY, LEARNING and DISCIPLINE. As a team we talked about how to display those traits and we broke all of our huddles with a GO WILD.”
The Covid-19 situation puts Ballinger, and all ADs, in a tough spot. The normal they knew may not be the normal come time for fall sports to commence.
“As much as our health experts can predict what August and September will look like, no one really knows,” said Ballinger. “I’m eager to see how things go in the next few weeks with things opening back up. I think that when the people who are making the decisions can get a better idea of what things will look like in the fall we will all know more. Once the state (officials) communicate with the OHSAA, then I would imagine that they will have guidelines and procedures for us to follow for athletics. I’m hopeful, that as we get into the summer months, we will begin to return to some form of normalcy.”
Ballinger also said Pennix was helpful over the years.
“Bryan Pennix has done a great job with our athletic website,” said Ballinger. “He keeps things updated and sends out information through social media, which is the way that things are done in society today. I feel like Bryan and I have a pretty good relationship. He was a big help for me as an event manager. He has been kind enough to offer to help me with some of the technology stuff later on this summer.“