New Lady Redbird volleyball coach, Ballard, takes charge

Drew Veskauf TimesNewspapers
Metamora junior Sydney Hanchett gets ready for the set during the Illinois Central College summer league in June. The Lady Redbirds will be under new head volleyball coach Tara Ballard.

After 14 years, the Metamora varsity volleyball team will be under a new head coach. Tara Ballard will be filling the shoes of Karla Bartman.

Bartman coached the Lady Redbirds for 14 years and racked up a 425-96 record, 12 regional titles and seven Mid-Illini Conference championships.

Bartman and Ballard have one thing in common, they both are members of the Metamora Athletic Hall of Fame. Bartman was inducted in 2012 and Ballard was inducted in 2013.

Ballard brings years of experience to the Metamora coaching program and has already been on the sidelines as an assistant to Bartman for five years.

As a Lady Redbird herself, Ballard earned 12 varsity letters, four from volleyball and was first-team all-conference three times.

After graduating MTHS, Ballard attended Illinois Central College and transferred to Winthrop university in South Carolina. At Winthrop, she played two years as an outside hitter, and in her senior year, she totaled 255 kills and helped the Eagles to a 54-15 record.

Ballard said she is looking forward to taking that experience and bring it with her to the head coaching position for Metamora.

It was a huge blessing to have gotten to coach with (Bartman) and kind of see the way she does things. She knew what she was doing,” Ballard said.

“On my coaching staff, I have two other girls who played Division I. There’s  a lot of experience coming from a lot of different coaches and they know what it takes to get to the next level.”

The Lady Redbirds lost a good chunk of seniors after graduation last year, but will have several other key players returning to the line up.

First-team all-conference Shannon Kempf is back as a senior captain and second-team all-conference Gillian Urycki will be back as a junior.

The two other captains will be seniors Leah TerBush and Hailey Mueller.

“In kind of different ways, we have one that’s really positive and brings everyone together, one who is a hard, hard worker and is really intense and brings it out of other people. The other one is sort of the mother hen, so it’s a nice little mixture,” Ballard said.

After coming in second in the Mid-Illini Conference to first-place Limestone by just one game, Ballard said she’s ready to enter conferece action.

In the M-I, all together, four new coaches will be seen on the court.

“It’ll be an interesting year, especially with new faces on the coaching staffs,” Ballard said.

Metamora will open its season in the Macomb Invitational Saturday with five games in one day.

“We’ll work some kinks out. It’s nice to see what we’re doing well and what we really need to work on,” Ballard said. “You kind of get that idea in practice but it’s totally different in a match.”

The Lady Redbirds will open M-I action Sept. 9 at Morton and will have its first home match Sept. 11 against Washington.