Ballard Excited for Junior Olympics Opportunity

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It's been quite a summer for Kendall Ballard.

The Charlottesville rising junior has impressed field hockey coaches at the national level and as a result, will take part in the Under-16 AAU Junior Olympics in Ann Arbor, Michigan from July 31-August 3.

Ballard was home doing some summer school work when she got the email informing her she'd made the Junior Olympics.

"I just kind of froze," she explained. "I didn't even know what to think. I was just so filled with joy."

The Region II Player of the Year explained she wasn't expecting to make the team and would have been satisfied with an invite to next summer's National Elite team.

But apparently she did enough at the U.S. National Futures Championship in Virginia Beach last month to earn the invite, although it didn't seem it would end that way after her first day at the camp.

"The first day I was so freaked out, I didn't want to mess up, I wanted to keep up with everyone else that had been there for a couple of years now," she explained.

"It was really fun. I got to meet a lot of new people, people who care about the sport as much as I do."

Now Ballard will have a chance to improve her game even more at the Junior Olympics, a platform to prove she can play with the best and make herself even more appealing to the national coaches.

"Just knowing that I can run with them and play with them, and that coaches seem to think so too, it just reassures me that I do have a shot at playing somewhere and making it," she said.

"It's definitely going to help me so that next year I can play better and go further in the pipeline."

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