LSU Gold

Ballard Announces Return For Final Season with LSU Gymnastics

by Harrison Valentine
Ballard Announces Return For Final Season with LSU Gymnastics

BATON ROUGE – Sierra Ballard, a 2024 National Champion, four-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member and two-time SEC Community Service team member, has announced she will return for her final year of eligibility with LSU Gymnastics. 

“There’s just something different about LSU,” Ballard said. “You can’t put it into words until you come here. If I have an opportunity to continue making history with my best friends, in the best place in this world, then I’m going to do that.”

Ballard, who has competed in every meet the last two years on at least one event, culminated the 2024 season with a career-high beam performance (9.9500) in the championship to leadoff her team in the final rotation. 

2023, Ballard says, was probably her best year of competition, leading off on floor for all 16 competitions, averaging a 9.820 on beam and 9.848 on floor for the year. As a senior in 2024, however, the Mandeville, Louisiana native was in the best place mentally of her career, allowing her to feel confident with her gymnastics and grow as a leader on the team. It was learning from those that came before her, combined with three years of collegiate experience, that propelled Ballard to really find her groove and become the ultimate teammate. 

“I think it comes with experience,” Ballard said. “I was really fortunate enough to have people like Olivia Gunter, Christina Desiderio and Kai Rivers to lead me. It was a progressive build, a climb, I guess you could say. It was step-by-step, year-by-year, learning from different experiences, different circumstances and being open to accountability.”

Helping the Tigers capture their first national championship in program history was a vision Ballard pictured from the second she stepped on campus. It still hasn’t registered, she admits, that the vision was realized, just two weeks removed from lifting the trophy in Fort Worth. 

“It’s hard to put that into words because it’s just so surreal,” Ballard said. “To be part of such insane history that’s going to be talked about forever is the coolest thing that I could have ever dreamed about. It’s the perfect storybook ending. It’s like a long, long story that finally has come to its peak.”

Ballard was named an NCAA All-American on beam after her performance in the NCAA Semifinals.

In her final year of competition, expect more of the same from Ballard, who has stepped up in big moments and become a vocal leader for LSU Gymnastics. In the end, the opportunity to represent her home state, wear those two colors, and compete for LSU for one more season, was an opportunity too good to pass up.

“I’m going to be the same person,” Ballard said. “I’m going to be the same me. There’s no other expectations. Go out there and have fun with my best friends and to represent this state and this university to the best of my ability, with a smile on my face.”

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