Melissa Ballard ’05
From June 26-July 4, basketball All-Star Melissa Ballard ’05 represented her country as a member of the USA Women’s Basketball Team at the Bajan Fest Goodwill Games in Barbados. The Math and Accounting double major was selected for the USA Team because of her aggressive playing style and dependable three-point shooting.
“Melissa brought fire and passion to our team,” said Dee Bell, Head Coach for the USA Team and Women’s Basketball Head Coach at Maryville College. “She was like a spark plug on the court, which was important because while the other teams were very physical and tough, our team was far superior in true basketball skills.”
The USA Team played against two university teams from Barbados, the Barbados National Women’s Team, and a Barbados all-star team. The USA Team blew through the competition, beating all four of its opponents by an average margin of 43 points.
Melissa was recommended to Coach Bell by Matt Acton, Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach at Carson-Newman. “The Converse All-Stars are a regular opponent of ours, so I’m very familiar with Melissa’s style of play,” said Coach Acton. “I’ve seen how she comes off of a screen very well and shoots with pin-point accuracy. Coach Beth Coil’s (Head Basketball Coach for the All-Stars) teams have a reputation for playing well and really hustling around the court, and Melissa is the epitome of that style of play. When you combine that style with someone who can consistently shoot three-pointers the way Melissa does, then you’ve got quite a player.”
Members of the USA Team met for the first time at Washington/Dulles Airport as they left for Barbados. “Even though we weren’t able to practice before leaving for Barbados, we came together very quickly on the court,” said Melissa. “It’s amazing how talent can bring a team together so fast, and this was a very talented team.”
Melissa echoed Coach Bell’s thoughts regarding the differing styles of play at the Games. “Some of the players-especially those on the Barbados National Women’s Team-were a bit older than us and played much more physically, but our skill level was much higher,” she said.