COVINGTON, Ind. — For five years, Adam Ballard has had some of the best moments of his life as boys basketball coach at Covington High School.
“Shortly after I took the job at Covington, I married my wife and a couple of years later, we had our first child and bought our first house,” Ballard said. “It’s where we started our family. From a basketball standpoint, to take the program to new heights and have such great kids and coaches to work with, it has been the best five years of my life and I have loved every minute of it.”
But when the opportunity came for a new challenge at Pendleton Heights near Indianapolis recently, Ballard made the decision to move on.
“The biggest factor was family,” Ballard said. “My wife works in Fishers, Ind. and she has been driving back and forth every day for the past three years with my little girl riding with her for day-care. We are at the point right now where she is getting older and it made sense from a geographic standpoint.
“We were very excited, but at the same time, there is sadness. In five years at Covington, it has become our home. With the relationship between players and students, teacher and community as a whole, it was a tough decision to make. “
Ballard finishes his career at Covington with a record of 110-31, including an 84-21 mark the last four years with the recently graduated senior class of Colton Brown, Trey Bever, Daniel Keller, Caleb Ellmore, Alex Rodgers and Logan Herzog.
“They were fantastic. All of them were not only great basketball players, but great kids as well,” Ballard said. “I started working with them when I first started and they were entering their eighth grade year and just being able to see them grow the last few years and to see them go from boys to young men has been awesome.
“I don’t think Covington will see a class like this again. They were 84-21 and there may not be another class that will top that.”
The chance for a major finish for the seniors was stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That was a really tough way to end it with this group of seniors because they have done so much to reach that level,” Ballard said. “You can’t tell me they were not going to win that regional, so it is a sad result and it is not going to change.”
Pendleton Heights has had three straight losing seasons, but Ballard is confident that he is going to break that streak for the Arabians.
“They have a great history and a great tradition at Pendleton. It is a job that I was always looking at since I was an assistant in college,” Ballard said. “It was one of those jobs that appealed to me because of the community, the size of the school and the success they have had over the years, so it is a great school and a great community and it is an opportunity to be part of something big.
“I am the first coach that was hired from outside the program in over 20 years, so I am an outsider almost like I was at Covington. You have to start over as far as relationship building and find out what motivates kids and find out what’s good and bad in every scenario. It is almost like starting from scratch, but it is also like the next chapter in my journey.”
With the pandemic, Ballard has yet to see what his new players can do in person, but is ready for the challenge.
“I hadn’t had an in-person meeting with my players and this is my fourth week,” Ballard said. “I have talked to players on Zoom, but we have strength and conditioning next week and I can finally meet them and I am excited to work on that. We have to reestablish everything we did at Covington. It took a while to get that foundation laid and we have to start doing that again.”