Ward, head coach for the Mead High girls basketball team in Longmont, Colo., and a 1987 Farmington High graduate, brought his Lady Mavericks to the Lady Scorps Invite last week, and relished the chance to compete in his hometown.
"I grew up here and my whole family is from here," Ward said. "I have three older brothers who showed me how to play and be competitive."
During his playing days, Ward was a member of the 1986 Scorpion state championship teams in basketball and baseball as a junior.
After graduating from FHS, Ward went on to play collegiately at the University of Southern Colorado, now known as Colorado State University-Pueblo.
At the conclusion of his playing career, Ward said move to coaching was the best thing to feed his competitive drive.
"Once I got through playing, the next best thing for staying active in the sport was to get into coaching," he said.
For the next 20 years, Ward has done just that, beginning his career as a volunteer assistant for the FHS boys team in 1993.
In 1998, Ward moved to Colorado where he coached the Pueblo West High boys team for four years.
Ward then took the opportunity to coach girls basketball for the first time in Lyons, Colo.
He coached at 2A Lyons High until 2009 when Mead High opened its doors and was in search of a girls hoops coach.
"The opportunity to coach at a higher classification came up, and I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could do it at a higher level," Ward said of Mead, which moved into Colorado's 4A division this year. "I've got a great group of girls who love playing."
Ward has carried what he learned from his high school basketball coach, Marv Sanders, and is passing it along to the kids he has coached.
"The presses we run are what Marv Sanders taught me here," Ward said. "His intensity for playing solid defense is something he instilled in us as players, and I'm tying to instill that in these girls."
On top of defensive strategy, Sanders' philosophy on the game is something Ward continues to carry with him.
"Coach Sanders would say How?' and we would say Together,'" Ward said. "I still use that same motto today. That team unity is important. We win together. We lose together. Everything is about being together. There are no individuals. That's what he taught me, and that's what I'm pushing on these girls."
Ward's team won one of its three games at the tournament, picking up a victory over FHS and dropping a pair a tough contests to Shiprock.