An experienced lacrosse coach with more than a decade working in the collegiate ranks, United States Sports Academy graduate Emilia Ward is a volunteer assistant coach for the University of Michigan women’s lacrosse program.
Ward earned her Master of Sports Science (M.S.S.) degree in sports coaching in 2014, while she worked in the field as head women’s lacrosse coach at Kalamazoo (Mich.) College. She is also the owner of Ward Lax LLC, a company hosting lacrosse camps and clinics across the country for a decade.
Like many Academy students and graduates, Ward took advantage of the institution’s flexible scheduling options to continue working in the field while earning her degree.
“The Academy helped me to gain my master’s degree while still working full time, allowing me to excel in the coaching world,” Ward said. “The programs helped me with all of the day-to-day administration responsibilities of coaching.”
At Michigan, Ward is assigned to work with goalkeepers and day-to-day operations.
“My favorite part of being a coach is helping to develop these young women on and off the field,” Ward said. “I love growing relationships and seeing the type of people these players evolve into.”
A former basketball, hockey, soccer, track and field, and lacrosse player, Ward said she enjoys lacrosse because of the fast pace and technical skill needed to succeed there.
“Lacrosse is great because I grew up playing hockey and basketball, and lacrosse is a perfect blend of both of those sports,” Ward said. “Sports today are extremely important. They teach time management, collaboration, work ethic, and allow athlete to grow a competitive spirit.”
Ward joined the Michigan staff after spending the previous two seasons as an assistant women’s lacrosse coach at Marquette University, where she specialized in defense and goalies, while also carrying director of operation and video coordinator responsibilities.
While at Marquette, the Golden Eagles ranked second in the Big East in saves per game and save percentage in 2020, goalie Sophia Leva set the single-season program record for save percentage and Jules Horning broke the program’s all-time saves record. Ward also helped Leva to All-Big East honors in 2021, marking the first Marquette goalie to earn the distinction, after she led the conference in saves, saves per game and save percentage.
Prior to her stint at Marquette, Ward started the Northern Michigan women’s lacrosse team and was the head coach from 2015-19 with the team playing its first varsity contest in 2016-17. Ward led her team to a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament berth in her final season had two All-GLIAC honorable mention nods.
She also started the women’s lacrosse team at Kalamazoo College and spent time as a head coach at Pfeiffer University, Alderson Broaddus University, while assisting at Winthrop University and Adrian College.
In addition to her Academy master’s degree, Ward holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Manhattan College.