A teacher with over 30 years of coaching experience, Scott Ballard has brought Winona State success unknown in program history. Ballard has surpassed the 500 win mark during his collegiate career, claiming over 100 victories in all three of his coaching stops.
Entering his 16th season in 2019-20, Ballard has brought winning basketball to Winona State by guiding the Warriors to the NCAA Tournament three times – the first three postseason appearances in program history.
The Warriors posted their 11th winning NSIC record in Ballard's 15-year tenure in 2018-19, reaching at least the quarterfinals of the NSIC Tournament for the fifth straight season.
The 2017-18 squad raced out to a 13-1 start before hitting a skid midway through the season. The Warriors concluded the year 17-13 (10-12 NSIC), marking just the second time since Ballard's sophomore campaign that WSU went below .500 in conference play. However, the Warriors rallied in the NSIC Tournament, reaching the championship game before their season came to an end.
In 2016-17, the Warriors finished tied for third in the NSIC South with an overall record of 22-9 (15-7 NSIC). In the first game of the conference tournament, Coach Ballard got his 500th career victory as the Warriors edged out U-Mary 64-59. Winona State would go on to beat Augustana in the before falling to Northern State in an OT heartbreaker in the semifinals.
The 2015-16 season was a historic year for the Warriors basketball program. The team won a school record 30 games and advanced to Central Region Championship game. Senior Alexis Foley became the second Winona State women’s basketball player to be named an All-American under Ballard. Foley averaged 15.1 points and 4.0 assists per game. She is now a part of the staff as a graduate assistant coach.
Winona State has won at least 15 games 11 times under Ballard, including reaching the 20 victory mark seven times. He also coached Michelle McDonald, the first NCAA Division II All-American in school history.
Ballard tutored McDonald to All-American and All-Region honors during the 2011-12 season while also helping Ana Wurtz to All-Region accolades after the 2008-09 campaign.
One of the hallmarks of Ballard’s teams is their academic performance. Since taking in the reigns as head coach in 2004-05, he has had 79 academic All-NSIC honorees. Winona State finished fourth nationally in the WBCA Academic Top-25 after the 2010-11 season, posting a 3.578 grade point average for the academic year. WSU has been in the WBCA Academic Top-25 in each of the last nine seasons, including a 13th-place finish nationally after the most recent year.
The success of the Winona State program is even more impressive when one considers where the team was when Ballard became head coach. WSU had posted a winning record just three times in the previous 26 seasons before Ballard’s arrival and now find themselves as a perennial threat in the NSIC.
Winona State had a bounce-back season in 2014-15 by finishing the season with a 20-8 record, the fifth time Ballard has reached 20 wins in the last eight seasons. He also helped lead the Warriors to the NSIC Tournament quarterfinals. The Warriors were led by a balanced scoring effort with four players averaging double figures and having the third-best scoring defense in the NSIC at 60.1 points per game.
The Warriors reached 20 victories for the fourth time in six seasons in 2012-13, posting a 21-11 record and advancing to the semifinals of the NSIC Tournament. WSU used a deadly long-range attack, led by senior Becca Friestleben who made a school-record 103 3-pointers. Katie Wolff hit 88 triples on the year as well, the third-most in a season, giving the duo the most prolific long-range shooting partnership in Warrior history.
Winona State posted its sixth consecutive season with at least 15 wins during the 2011-12 campaign. The Warriors went 18-11 on the year, led by McDonald who became the program’s first NCAA Division II All-American.
The Warriors made history during the 2010-11 season, claiming the first NSIC championship in program history. Ballard led WSU to the NSIC Tournament title, earning a victory over Wayne State, the league’s regular season champion, in the process. Winona State also advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second time.
The 2008-09 season was also a historic season for Ballard and the Warriors as they earned a second place finish in the NSIC, the highest finish in program history. They set a school record with 24 wins, reaching the 20 win plateau for the second consecutive year. The Warriors advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time in school history, where they won their first NCAA postseason game, 78-55, over Colorado State-Pueblo. The season also included a school-record 11 game winning streak.
Winona State set a then-school record for wins during the 2007-08 season as Ballard and the Warriors finished 21-9. The season ended with the Warriors finishing third in the NSIC and hosting a playoff game for the first time in school history. Winona State finished the season leading the nation in free throw percentage at 79.4 percent.
Ballard became a college coach in 1990, taking over the women’s basketball program at Missouri Southern State. In five seasons at Missouri Southern State he recorded four winning seasons and posted an overall record of 102-42. Ballard was named MIAA Coach of the Year after the 1991-10 season while setting a school record for wins with 27 in 1992-93. He coached three All-Americans and won the MIAA Tournament title in 1994.
Ballard moved on to Central Missouri State (now the University of Central Missouri) in 1995. He had an immediate impact, posting a 23-5 record in his first season. In nine seasons at Central Missouri Ballard had eight winning seasons and posted an overall mark of 167-90. Ballard led Central Missouri to the MIAA Championship during the 1999-2000 season, winning the league’s coach of the year honors in the process. Ballard also coached three All-Americans while at Central Missouri State.
Prior to his successful career in the collegiate ranks, Ballard was the head coach at Marshfield (Missouri) High School. From 1981-90 he won four district championships and claimed the Class 3A Missouri State Championship in 1988, 1989 and 1990. He was named the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association and Missouri Sports Writers and Broadcasters Coach of the Year in each of those seasons as well. At one point of his high school coaching career, Ballard led Marshfield High to 96 consecutive wins.
Ballard also led Niangua (Missouri) High School to its conference and district’s championship in 1980-81.
Ballard graduated from Southwest Missouri State University in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. In 1988 he earned a Master of Science degree in Education from Drury University.
Ballard lives in Winona with his wife Nita. They have four children - Ryan, Justin, Rory and Shalee - and seven grandchildren.