An alumna of the United States Sports Academy who has experience building women’s lacrosse programs has been selected as the first head coach of the newly created women’s lacrosse team at Northern Michigan University.
Emilia Ward, of Marquette, Mich., will start the NCAA Division II NMU program from scratch with play to begin in the spring of 2017.
Ward earned her Master of Sports Science in sports coaching from the Academy in 2013. She says the Academy’s online degree program helped her enhance her career opportunities by preparing her to be a head coach.
“Everything in my Academy classes was super helpful,” she said. “My classes pertained to things I am doing in my current job. They helped with the aspects of administration and organization. They gave me an idea of what I needed to do and my schedule was great.
“The Academy gave me the flexibility to complete my degree while still working in the field,” she said. “The program was super appealing. I highly recommend it.”
Ward said her position is “rewarding and allows me to make a positive difference in the lives of student-athletes.”
Dr. Stephen Butler, Academy dean of academic affairs, recalls, “Emilia was a great student and very fast to grasp all the information in the classes.”
Ward is currently recruiting — bringing students to campus for visits, phoning high school coaches, and taking trips across the mid-Atlantic states.
Ward grew up in the Detroit, Mich., area. She played lacrosse at Mercy High School and then at NCAA Division I Manhattan College in New York for four years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications and began her career in coaching.
From 2008 to 2011, Ward was assistant coach at Division III Adrian (Mich.) College, where she served as recruiting coordinator and organized team fundraising ventures. During her tenure, the Bulldogs posted a 40-12 record, appeared in the 2011 NCAA tournament, had 10 players earn all-region accolades and made the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Academic Honor Roll each year. In 2011, Ward went to Division I Winthrop (S.C.) University as an assistant coach, where she helped recruit players and generate practice plans for the inaugural season there.
In 2012, she accepted her first head coaching position at Division II Alderson Broaddus University in West Virginia. While there, Ward recruited the inaugural team and served on the stadium architecture committee, setting up the Battlers to begin competition in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
Ward most recently launched the women’s lacrosse program at Division III Kalamazoo (Mich.) College. In their first season, 2013-14, she led the Hornets to a 5-10 record and had one player earn first team all-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) recognition. In 2014-15, the Hornets went 6-8 and had two players earn all-MIAA honors. In both years Ward’s teams were on the IWLCA Academic Honor Roll for high academic performance.
The United States Sports Academy, known around the world as America’s Sports University, is an independent, non-profit, regionally accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and the world with programs in instruction, research and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports.