July 6, 2022
VCU alum nominated for ESPY
Kate Ward has been captain of the U.S. deaf women's national soccer team since 2016.
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A Virginia Commonwealth University graduate is up for a 2022 ESPY award.
Ward has been captain of the USA Deaf Soccer Association Women’s National Team since 2016.
“It’s been one of the biggest honors of my life to lead this team and it has also taught me many lessons on leadership and inclusion both on and off the field,” Ward said. “One of the most interesting aspects of this team is that every player communicates in different ways. Some people sign, some people talk, some people lip read and some people use a combination of those. Some people wear hearing devices and others don’t. It’s been an interesting challenge to make sure that we are inclusive of everyone.”
Ward attributes the team’s inclusiveness for its continued success on the field — “We’ve never lost a game!”
And while the winning and competitive aspect are fun, she said, “We realize that continuing to win also helps us continue to have a platform to affect change for little girls growing up like us — deaf in a hearing world.”
People with disabilities like my own spend so much time trying to fit in and ‘be normal’ in a world that’s not made for us. Thankfully, sports changed that for me. When we are given access to sports, we are able to showcase our abilities to ourselves and others. It’s an opportunity for us not to be defined by society’s preconception of our disability.Kate Ward
The Center for Sport Leadership is proud to call Ward one of its own, said Carrie W. LeCrom, Ph.D., executive director.
“She's had so much success already in her young career as a coach, and she continues to make a huge leadership impact on the U.S. Deaf Women's National Team. Her accomplishments are no surprise to us; we saw her huge potential while she was here at VCU — great attitude, willingness to work hard and lots of determination. The ESPY nomination couldn't go to a better person, and we are so thankful to be a small part of her past and future journey.”
Ward started playing soccer when she was 4 years old — about the same time that she began to lose her hearing. The soccer field was the one place where it didn’t matter if she could hear, she said, as long as she could run, pass and score.
“People with disabilities like my own spend so much time trying to fit in and ‘be normal’ in a world that’s not made for us,” she said. “Thankfully, sports changed that for me. When we are given access to sports, we are able to showcase our abilities to ourselves and others. It’s an opportunity for us not to be defined by society’s preconception of our disability.
“Soccer has been vital to my confidence and development as a person and leader on and off the field.”
The Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards, known widely as the ESPYs, recognize athletic achievement. The 2022 awards will be presented on July 20 at 8 p.m. on ABC-TV. To vote for Ward, go to www.espn.com/espys/story/_/
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