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Coach’s passion attracts recruits

<p>Freshman Taylor Clarke said one of the main reasons she chose to attend Rutgers was because of head coach Maura Ballard.</p>

Freshman Taylor Clarke said one of the main reasons she chose to attend Rutgers was because of head coach Maura Ballard.

Rutgers head women’s golf coach Maura Ballard is in her 22nd year as a golf coach at the University. She has coached both the men’s and women’s teams.

She started her coaching career in January 1993, coaching the men’s team, and then in 1997 also became the coach of the women’s team.

Ballard coached both teams from 1997 until 2010. After 2010, she focused her attention solely on the women’s team.

“I actually never thought I would become a college coach,” Ballard said. “I always thought I’d either play golf for a living or go into sales.”

The Scarlet Knights persisted in trying to get her to be the coach of the men’s team. She finally accepted.

“Something that started out as a part-time hobby 22 years ago has turned into a full-time very fulfilling career for me,” Ballard said.

Her ties to the Knights go back further than her coaching career.

Ballard was a student and a golfer at Rutgers from 1984-1987. She had a successful career at Rutgers as she earned MVP honors all four years, won the 1986 Yale Invitational and had several top-3 finishes during her collegiate career.

She also found success as an amateur golfer.

In 1988, she won the Garden State 36-hole Stroke Play Championship, was runner-up in both the State Amateur and the WMGA Match Play Championship, and in 1992 won the NJ State Amateur.

As a coach, recruiting is vital to success. When recruiting for Rutgers, Ballard says she pays close attention to the rankings on Junior Golf Scoreboard, which compile results from most of the junior tournaments held around the country.

She also follows the results on the American Junior Golf Association tour, which is the most prestigious junior tour in the country.

When NCAA rules permit, Ballard contacts the top golfers from each state and watches junior players compete in as many events as her budget will allow each year.

Freshman Taylor Clarke said that Ballard was a contributing factor to attending Rutgers.

“I came to Rutgers because I knew that with coach Ballard’s optimistic personality and positive outlook, I would flourish both in the classroom and on the course,” Clarke said. “From the first time that I met her, I knew that I wanted to be a Scarlet Knight. She is a perfect representation of the values and passion of which Rutgers stands.”

Sophomore Samantha Moyal liked the balance that Ballard brings between athletics and academics.

“The main thing that I loved about coach was that she encompasses a program that is not just athletics based like a lot of the other universities that I was being recruited by,” Moyal said. “I was looking for a coach that made it a point that academics are just as important as athletics.”

Ballard strives for excellence both on the course and in the classroom.

“I love everything about coaching. Being able to help my players pursue their goals both athletically and academically is a thrill for me,” Ballard said. “… What motivates me most is the fact that I can make an impact in a young person’s life. That’s a good reason to get up every morning.”

For updates on the Rutgers women’s golf team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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