Ballard signs with Coyotes

He will forgo his senior season with the Gophers hockey team.

Dan Miller

Minnesota hockey player Keith Ballard decided to forgo his senior season with the Gophers and signed a three-year contract with the National Hockey League’s Phoenix Coyotes on June 8.

Ballard won two NCAA Championships with the Gophers and was a captain his junior season.

In April, Ballard played on Team USA at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic. He helped the team win a bronze medal at the championships as the only NCAA player selected to the team.

“The world championships played a significant role in my decision,” Ballard said. “After being around that caliber of players, I came to the decision that I needed to move on and I could play at that level.”

Ballard said he will miss playing for Minnesota, but he is confident with his decision to join the Coyotes.

“Looking back at the three years (with the Gophers), if someone would have told me the list of things that you are going to be able to accomplish . . . and be willing to give up that final year, I think I would take it in a second,” he said.

Ballard said he has a lot of work to do in the NHL to improve his hockey skills, but also said he would continue to work toward his diploma.

“I am obviously going to miss out on graduation, and that is something that is important to me,” Ballard said. “It’s something that I will continue to work toward.”

Pearson named coach

Minnesota’s volleyball team hired Jill Pearson as an assistant coach Thursday.

Pearson will take on primary recruiting responsibilities from newly appointed associate head coach David Boos.

“Jill is a perfect fit for our program at this point,” Minnesota coach Mike Hebert said. “She is a proven winner at the highest level and she is a great communicator.”

Since 2001, Pearson has acted as founder and director for various off-campus volleyball camps involving high school and junior teams throughout the Midwest.

Pearson served as the 16-under Iowa Rockets club coach in the spring of 2003. She has also worked as a volleyball camp coach at the Huskers Volleyball Camp since 1998.

As a player, Pearson was a team captain on the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ National Championship team in 2000 and played in two Final Fours with Nebraska.