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Kate Ward, a 2016 App State graduate and four-year member of the Mountaineers’ soccer program, has been nominated for a 2022 ESPY award, ESPN announced last week.
Now a captain of the U.S. Deaf Women’s National Soccer Team, Ward has won five gold medals competing at the Deaf Olympics and Deaf World Cup since the age of 15. She was nominated for the ESPY of Best Athlete with a Disability, Women’s Sports.
“I was surprised — I’m super honored, and it’s pretty surreal,” Ward said. “I think in some ways I really haven’t had the chance to sit down and think about it yet, and then when I do sit down and think about it, I’m like, ‘Oh wow, this is actually pretty cool.’ ”
A midfielder from Atlanta, Ga., Ward joined the Mountaineers as a freshman in 2012 and went on to score five goals and dish out three assists across 47 career matches with the Black and Gold.
“Choosing App was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Ward said. “I love the culture of the athletic program … App State itself is so gorgeous, Boone is incredible, and the academic side of things was great, too.”
Ward was a cellular molecular biology major during her time at App State and graduated Magna Cum Laude. She aspired to become an ear doctor so that she could help others the same way that her doctors have helped her.
Ward received hearing aids at age 3 when she learned that she was deaf in one ear and hard of hearing in the other. At age 6, she began to notice that the hearing aids were no longer effective and returned to the doctor to be re-examined. Just one month later, she had lost her hearing completely, at which point her parents elected to get her cochlear implants.
After working in a PT clinic following her graduation, Ward realized that the medical field was no longer what she wanted to pursue. Instead, she wanted to give back to the game of soccer, which had given so much to her over the years.
She joined the VCU women’s soccer staff as a graduate assistant in the fall of 2017 and earned her master’s degree in Sport Leadership. Then, in January of 2019, Ward was hired full-time as an assistant coach at UTEP, a position she currently holds.
Ward is the second App State athlete or team to be recognized with an ESPY nomination, joining the 2007 Mountaineer football team that was nominated for “Best Upset,” following their signature win over Michigan in the season opener. Ultimately, the New York Giants won the award for defeating the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
The 2022 ESPYS will take place Wednesday, July 20, at 8 p.m. Fan voting is open and will run through July 17 at 8 p.m. Fans can cast a vote for Ward by visiting ESPN.com/ESPYS