In middle school, Simone Ballard would compare her track times to those of older athletes, high school and even some in college, to see how she measured up.
She came away thinking the same thing each time.
"It was then that I knew, if I worked hard, I could one day compete on the collegiate level," Ballard said.
So, the dynamic runner went out and worked.
On Oct. 19, the Mayde Creek senior verbally committed to Baylor, where she will compete in the hurdles and sprints. Ballard is a decorated recruit for the Bears, whom she chose over Dartmouth, South Florida, UCLA, and Mississippi State.
First, I’d like to acknowledge that none of this would be possible without the unfailing glory and grace of GOD. I… https://t.co/9gbW6DN0SD— Simone Ballard (@Simone Ballard) 1634642006.0
Ballard is a nationally ranked hurdler, a seven-time Junior Olympian and a four-time All-American. She holds personal records of 13.96 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles, 45.37 seconds in the 300-meter hurdles, and 12.1 seconds in the 100-meter dash. At the USA Track and Field National Youth Outdoor Championships in June in Georgia, she finished second in the 100 hurdles with a time of 14.38.
At five years old, Ballard started competing in track and field with the youth club Track Houston. Since then, she's never let up.
"I liked the fact that no one can discredit your accomplishments," Ballard said. "The clock doesn't lie."
Ballard said she cannot remember learning to hurdle. She grew up watching her older siblings compete in the event.
"One day, my mom took me to see if I could learn to hurdle and it just came naturally," Ballard said. "I ran up and, to everyone's surprise, I was able to take the hurdle, decent form and all. I don't ever remember being afraid of the hurdles."
While her start as a hurdler came rather easily, mastering it has not been so.
Ballard credits much of her success to her personal coach Marlon Odom, praising his ability to break down the sport, and explain things in a way she can understand and he can demonstrate.
"I'm still learning and improving daily," Ballard said. "You must have a certain mentality to be successful at hurdling. You must be resilient. My thought process is to be aggressive, attack, and run through the hurdles as if they are not even there. I constantly rely on drills and believing that I am the best on the line that day."
That innate competitive drive is appropriately accompanied by lofty aspirations.
"This year, I plan to run, run fast and have fun," Ballard said. "One goal is to help my team make it to the state championship and enjoy my senior season. After high school track is over, I would like to compete in the World U20 Champions, representing the USA."
VIRAL VIDEO: Klein Forest wins first district contest since 2017, Coach Wilson shaves head in celebration
HOUSTON - In the midst of a four-game losing streak heading into last week, Klein Forest coach Johnathan Wilson knew he had to do something to get the team morale back on track.
So, the coach made a bet with his team - beat Tomball Memorial and you get to shave my head.
"I wanted to come up with something to get our team back motivated," Wilson said. "We made the bet Tuesday after the practice with the entire team."
A few days later, Klein Forest defeated the Wildcats 54-43, notching their first district victory in four years. Prior to Thursday's win, the Golden Eagles hadn't registered a district win since beating Spring Woods, 63-0, on October 5, 2017.
"This win was huge for our program," Wilson said. "All the hard work we've put in this offseason has finally paid off."
With the win, it was time for Wilson to pay up on his end of the bet.
So, Wilson sat in a chair with his entire team around him, while offensive lineman Matthew Johnson got his clippers revved up. Johnson, who according to Wilson cuts hair on the side for family and friends, took the shears and went right down the middle of Wilson's head shaving off his hair with Wilson smiling and laughing the entire time.
"The last time I shaved my head was pledging for my fraternity in college," Wilson said.
A bet is a bet! First district win in TEN YEARS!!! #BaldHead #EagleUp pic.twitter.com/j1XiD5u0Fp
— KLEIN FOREST FOOTBALL (@KFGOLDENEAGLES) October 22, 2021
While Wilson was getting his head shaved, some players were taking video of the moment. The initial shave of his head was posted to Twitter on Friday.
On Monday, the video had more than 36,000 views.
"This is a moment that our coaches and players will cherish forever," Wilson said. "It's crazy to think that 36,000 people watched that video. But I am so happy I could share that experience with so many. Maybe we motivated a couple coaches to make the same bet with their team next week."
Join the #VYPETEAM
Get up to date news from all over the country!