Ward bounces back

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 30, 2005

AHOSKIE – Starting the year, it was anyone’s guess what playing shape Wes Ward would be in.

The Ridgecroft senior was still recuperating from knee surgery that ended two seasons – soccer and basketball – and cut another, baseball, short during his junior season.

Ward responded by securing All-State as a soccer player, being named to two All-Roanoke-Chowan teams and being selected Most Valuable Player in all three sports he played during his senior season.

&uot;I think Wes had an outstanding senior year,&uot; Ridgecroft Athletic Director Doug Cobbs said. &uot;His leadership, work ethic and desire to become better is what made him stand above everyone else this year.&uot;

Last fall, Ward was named to the All-Coastal Plains Independent Conference soccer team and was named All-State by the North Carolina Independent Athletic Association.

&uot;I loved being a hardnosed sweeper and slide-tackling,&uot; Ward said.

The Ridgecroft graduate said he considered not playing soccer because of the injury to his knee, but was glad he decided to.

&uot;I enjoyed soccer a lot because I wasn’t going to play because of tearing my ACL, but I decided to give it a shot.

&uot;Coach (Patrick) Sensiba was a big discipline coach and I really enjoyed that,&uot; Ward added.

From the soccer field, Ward headed to the basketball court, where his presence was nearly as dominating. After a year off the floor, Ward said it felt good just to be back in the Ridgecroft jersey.

&uot;I enjoyed being back on the court,&uot; he said. &uot;Really, it was only my second year playing varsity because of missing last year. I enjoyed the people that were playing around me.

&uot;I also enjoyed just getting my number called out and running out on the floor,&uot; Ward added. &uot;It was great being part of the team.&uot;

During his senior campaign, Ward was named Most Valuable Player of his team, All-Tarheel Independent Conference and All-Roanoke-Chowan. He was selected Best Defensive Player on the All-Roanoke-Chowan squad.

&uot;I really enjoyed playing for Mr. Winslow,&uot; Ward said of his coach, who also serves as headmaster of Ridgecroft.

&uot;Wes was a leader on our team and was a big reason for the success we had this season,&uot; Winslow said. &uot;I enjoyed coaching him and was proud of his success in every sport in which he participated.

The one sport Ward did play during his junior year was baseball. This season was no different as he was dominant on the mound and also led his team offensively.

In addition to being named All-Tarheel Independent Conference, Ward was selected All-Roanoke-Chowan Player of the Year.

&uot;Pitching-wise, I just love being on the mound because I kind of have control of the game,&uot; Ward said. &uot;It’s always been my favorite sport because I’ve been playing since I was a small child.

&uot;I also loved to step into the batter’s box,&uot; Ward said. &uot;I enjoy getting ready to hit.&uot;

Another person who enjoyed seeing Ward on the mound or in the batter’s box was Ridgecroft baseball coach Richard Murray.

&uot;He did a tremendous job for us in baseball this year,&uot; Murray said. &uot;He’s an excellent athlete and also has a lot of character. He’s a fine young man.&uot;

During his time at Ridgecroft, Ward said he had enjoyed being a part of the Rams.

&uot;I love playing Ridgecroft School athletics,&uot; he insisted. &uot;I have always loved it. The kids here are my best friends and I have known them for so long that I enjoy being on a team with my friends.

&uot;Everyone here is supportive of athletics,&uot; he continued. &uot;We have good mentors and a good environment.&uot;

Winning three MVP awards at the school’s annual athletic banquet caught him by surprise.

&uot;I actually was shocked, but it meant a lot to me,&uot; Ward said. &uot;It couldn’t have happened without the other players on the team and the coaches, but it was a great feeling.&uot;

Ward also said his athletic success could be directly related to Taylor and Becky Ward, his parents.

&uot;They’ve always been there and supported me,&uot; he said.

All total, Ward won three MVP awards, three All-Conference Awards, two All-Roanoke-Chowan Awards, one All-Region Award and one All-State honor.

(The Reggie Wiggins Male Athlete of the Year Award is given annually by the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald for the male athlete that had the most successful year and demonstrated a positive attitude towards teammates, coaches and opponents. It is named in honor of the newspaper’s first Male Athlete of the Year. Wiggins was selected Male Athlete of the Year after following an outstanding career and senior campaign at Hertford County High School.)