Athletic Department announces new boys’ soccer program head

Aaron Park

The Athletic Department announced Friday that Kris Ward will be the boys’ soccer program head for the 2016-2017 season. Ward is currently the head coach for the FC Los Angeles and Total Futbol Academy youth soccer clubs.

“We are extremely excited to have Kris Ward lead our boys’ soccer program,” Head of Athletics Terry Barnum said via a statement on the Harvard-Westlake Athletics website. “His wide range of coaching and leadership experience, from youth to professional levels, will benefit our school and our program enormously.”

While most team members have yet to meet their new head coach, the school notified the players about Ward’s hiring via email on Friday.

Originally from San Diego, Ward began his coaching career in 1999 in Northern Virginia. Before moving to Los Angeles, Ward most recently worked in Washington, D.C. as the Director of Recreational Soccer at DC Stoddert, a youth soccer organization.

In addition, Ward has previously coached with the Southwestern Youth Association, St. Mary’s College of Maryland and the Maryland Youth Soccer Olympic Developmental Program.

Ward worked in Major League Soccer as a scout for the Seattle Sounders and an academy coach for D.C. United. During his last year with the Sounders, they finished the year as U.S. Open Cup champions.

Additionally, Ward served as an assistant coach for the Washington Freedom of the Women’s United Soccer Association. “It is a tremendous honor to join the Harvard-Westlake family,” Ward said through the Athletics Department’s statement. “Going through the extensive interview process, it is apparent that this is a special community, one that seeks excellence in all endeavors. I look forward to learning a great deal from the faculty and students and hope to add my own insights in coaching and education. I’m excited about leading this new chapter for the boys’ soccer program and have confidence that our student athletes will rise to the challenges in front of us and push the program to unprecedented new heights.”

The Athletics Department’s statement noted Ward’s utilization of sports science in his coaching philosophy.

It also noted that Ward had already started working as the soccer program head, preparing the team for next year’s season.

Ward will inherit a team that went 7-9-3 under former head coach Lucas Bongarra this year, including 4-6-2 in league play.

The Wolverines will lose key seniors including forward Andrew Vanderschans ’18, forward Max Rolnick ’16 and center back Jadon Yariv ’16. Rolnick was named the Student Athlete Advisory Council’s February Athlete of the Month.

The team will look to juniors like center back Ethan Blaser ’17 and wing player Theo Velaise ’17 as new leaders.

The team’s underclassmen will also look to athletes like Velaise and Blaser to set an example in working closely with Ward this offseason to improve for their upcoming season.

“I’m really looking forward to the upcoming seasons,” Jeremy Yariv ’18 said. “He seems like a great coach based on his resume and previous jobs. I really see the program going far under his coaching.”