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One Year Wiser: ISU’s Jamie Pollard Says Heart Attack Taught Him About Stress

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AMES, Iowa -- The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament equals stress.

The thought of your team losing the next game and then having to go home for the year equals stress. Of course, stress is also replacing a beloved basketball coach (Fred Hoiberg), firing a well-liked football coach (Paul Rhoads) and bowling in the south end zone of Jack Trice Stadium ($60  million).

Jamie Pollard has to deal with all of those things. Oh, and he had a heart attack last year, followed by heart surgery.

But Pollard, Iowa State's Athletics Director since 2005, says he is better-equipped to handle stress now. A serious health incident for a man who considered himself to be in pretty good shape will do that to you.

"I've had some people say I mixed up the order. After two coaching changes and the south end zone...I should have had the heart attack. I got it out-of-the-way on the front end. So I could be ready to go through these," Pollard said, "It comes with the profession."

In 2015, Pollard had been attending his daughter's track meet when he knew something was wrong. In the year that has followed since the heart attack, he is wiser about himself.

"I'm going to enjoy this for what it is, not for what it's not," Pollard said.

You might say that's his new motto.

Not always easy to follow, of course -- not when fans, alumni and donors want winners season after season in all of his university's sports teams. But he says his life is more about balance now (along with more fruits and vegetables and fewer cookies and brownies) and more focus on what is important.

"Just be more aware of what really matters," Pollard said, "Whether it's my faith, my family or my friends...or just moments."

He hopes his basketball team will provide him more of those moments with a deep run in this upcoming tournament. Either way, he doesn't plan to stress about it. Or at least, not as much as he used to.

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