Born and raised in Vincennes, Indiana, Jensen Ballinger’s experience with sports started the same as many young athletes–her parents wanted her to get involved and be active. But that initial introduction into sports soon proved to be just the beginning of a lifelong bond between a mother and daughter brought closer through a love of volleyball.
When Ballinger was just five years old, she fell in love with the game of volleyball “at first touch.” Her interest in the sport began when her five-year-old self saw her mother, Jill, coaching the game. “Once I first touched the ball, I knew that this was something I would never want to stop doing,” Ballinger said. From that moment on, she never looked back.
In high school, Ballinger was not only able to continue her dual love for volleyball and softball but also grow even closer with her mom who doubled as her daughter’s high school volleyball coach. While sometimes family and sports don’t mix well, the Ballingers knew their roles and were able to separate their mother-daughter and player-coach time. “We always told each other that whatever happens on the court will be between player and coach. Once we step outside the gym our mother and daughter relationship will pick back up,” Ballinger said. The opportunity to play for her mom will forever be something close to her heart. Her Blackburn teammates often hear her refer to her mother as her best friend.
Ballinger hoped to continue her volleyball career at college, and she patiently waited for the perfect opportunity. She found that in Blackburn. Coming from successful high school volleyball and softball programs, she knew that her experience here may be different, but wanted the opportunity to be a part of the change in the athletic culture as well as the turnaround for both programs.
As she wraps up her sophomore year, Ballinger continues to be grateful for the opportunity she has been given, never once forgetting what got her here. She gives all of the credit to her family for their constant support and God because “at the end of the day, win or lose, I am always going out and competing to glorify His name.”