Lenoir-Rhyne Vice President for Athletics Kim Pate has announced the hiring of Dean Ward as the head women’s soccer coach. Ward comes to LR from the University of Dayton where he has been the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator since 2017.
“We are excited to add a coach of Dean’s stature to continue the championship-level experience for our women’s soccer student-athletes,” said Pate. “Dean brings a high level of experience with extensive knowledge of the game and will position the program for continued success both on and off the field.”
“I am extremely excited to join the LR Athletics family and humbled by the opportunity to lead the women’s soccer program,” said Ward. “I look forward to continuing a culture of excellence here in Hickory. I would like to thank Kim Pate and everyone in the hiring process for entrusting me with this opportunity. I was struck by the passion and genuine care for the women’s soccer program and our student-athletes. It is clear that Lenoir-Rhyne is a special place with special people.”
Ward helped the Flyers earn Atlantic-10 Tournament berths in every season he was with the program and helped develop seven A-10 Conference Rookie team players. Additionally, Ward coached seven players to all A-10 Conference selections and seven to the all A-10 Academic Team. Alexis Kiehl was named A-10 Offensive Player of the Year in 2017-18 with Itala Gemelli picking up the A-10 Rookie of the Year in 2020-21 and the league’s Player of the Year in 2021.
Prior to arriving at Dayton, Ward served on staff at the University of Tennessee under head coach Brian Pensky for five years. While on staff, the Volunteers compiled a 50-36-16 record including three 10+ win seasons. Ward assisted in recruiting classes touted as No. 3 (2015) and No. 11 (2014) in the nation.
Ward also had a stint at Loyola Marymount University for the 2011 season and enjoyed success at Marymount College (NAIA) as the head coach, leading the Mariners to The Peace Cup Championship in his first season. He served as an assistant coach for both the men’s program and the women’s program for two years before taking over as the head coach for the women’s program in 2010.
Ward also coached in youth soccer as a Director of Player Development for Manhattan Beach Sand & Surf Soccer Club in Los Angeles, CA and coach of FC Alliance ECNL teams based in Knoxville, TN. Ward served as an assistant coach in 2015 with the USYS Region III ODP team and served as a regional staff coach for Region III in 2014 and 2015.
Ward takes over a program fresh off its first-ever Final Four appearance and the highest national ranking in program history (No. 4). LR has won seven SAC regular-season championships since 2010 and made eight NCAA Tournaments in that span.
“The program’s standard of excellence has been well established and I cannot wait to continue its tradition of elite performance on and off the field in the SAC and on the national stage,” said Ward.
A native of Birmingham, England, Ward graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in sport science with coaching and exercise science. Ward holds an NSCAA Premier coaching diploma and NSCAA National Goalkeeping Diploma.