In Kentucky basketball, Ballard High School has been one of the premier powerhouses to represent the city of Louisville in the state. Boys Varsity Coach Chris Renner is in his 17th season coaching the Bruins, and success does not begin to describe his tenure and the achievements of the team.
The Ballard Bruins have had 14 District titles, six Regional titles, has been State Runner-ups four times, and were crowned State Champion in 1999, when they defeated Scott County. In 20 years of coaching, Renner himself has 515 wins as a boys coach, and 33 wins as a girlâ€™s coach, and stands as the all-time leader in wins at Ballard. He is tied for fifth with the most victories in state tournament history, and tied for first with the most state finals appearances.
The Bruins are off to another incredible start to the season, and currently ranked number two in the state of Kentucky according to MaxPreps. The team has not lost a game since Dec. 19, 2014. One would venture to say Ballard creates a new recipe for success every season.
Many basketball greats have come from this school. When asked about whatâ€™s so special about this particular team, Renner said, â€œThe basketball here at Ballard was established with a lot of the early pioneers, guys like Jeff Lamp, Jerry Eaves, and coach Richard Schmidt. It has allowed the tradition here to be established like [the University of] Louisville or the University of Kentucky. This group of basketball players has continued to carry out that kind of tradition, [through] their hard work, effort, and motivation to be a great basketball team.â€
Since 1998, Renner has had a winning record every season. Basketball critics would say he coaches one of the best, if not the best, team in the state of Kentucky. Particularly in the city of Louisville, Ballard has developed a basketball program to where it doesnâ€™t really matter what high school you have come from or go to; if youâ€™re a basketball fan, Ballard has always been a must-see team. Renner expressed how it felt to coach one of the most dominant teams in the state.
â€œItâ€™s a tremendous honor. Itâ€™s one of those things, I think sometimes people think you just have talent and thatâ€™s how it gets done. Part of the recipe is talent. Just like chocolate chip cookies, part of the recipe is chocolate chips, but thatâ€™s not the only piece of the recipe that makes a chocolate chip cookie good. In terms of basketball, you have to have a lot of other factors. Our kids play our system really well. They work hard within our system, and yes we do have talent; but the talent develops, year in and year out, because they are going against equally good players.â€
Coach Renner impacts the lives not only of his players, but other Ballard students as well. He mentioned that students who have graduated from Ballard have cherished memories from high school based on those exhilarating moments and experiences of watching the basketball team. Although only fifteen players participate in a state championship, thousands have been impacted by the programâ€™s greatness. Renner has solidified his legacy at Ballard High. Though, striving to make a legacy is not his chief priority.
â€œIâ€™m not really interested in leaving a legacy here. What I am interested in doing is giving the players at Ballard High School a great experience. That experience is magnified when you go to the state tournament.â€
In recent years, Coach Renner has said to his players, of the state championship, â€œYes youâ€™re going for the memories. But you want to go to the state tournament also for your family, your friends, and the students in the school. I was blessed my first year here winning the state championship, and that was a great experience.â€
Coach Renner has learned to make the most of investing in kids. Outside of his players and students at Ballard, he and his wife Jill had the gracious opportunity to adopt a young Ethiopian boy.
â€œMy wife and I, we had a goal to adopt, and kind of put it off to the side. For a lot of various reasons we waited, and finally we realized we were being disobedient to what God was asking us to do. We decided we needed to obey. We started the adoption process; amazingly we thought it was going to take a little longer.Â New Yearâ€™s Eve, we get word that we have an eight year old son in Ethiopia, and if we want to accept him. We felt that was Godâ€™s call, so weâ€™re excited about that chapter in our life.â€ Senior Co-captain Corey Douglas had the chance to assist Coach Renner and his family in the improvements and repairs to the home of Ms. Marj, the widowed mother of Rennerâ€™s newly-adopted son. Asked his thoughts on impacting the lives of others with his coach, Douglas said, â€œWith him adopting a son from Ethiopia, I felt like thatâ€™s just a great thing. Heâ€™s a great leader and role model.â€ Chris Renner is surely someone who has displayed greatness on and off the court. VT