Kevin Ward, a four-year starter on Oklahoma State University’s NCAA Championship wrestling teams, has been named head coach of Ouachita Baptist University’s first-ever wrestling team.
Noting that “we will be the first university in Arkansas to offer collegiate wrestling,” Ouachita President Rex Horne added, “I am excited that Kevin Ward has committed to be Ouachita’s first wrestling coach. His background as a wrestler in a premier program, his desire to build a quality program and his readiness to recruit students will bring excitement to our university.”
Citing Ouachita’s mission as a top-ranked liberal arts university with a strong Christian emphasis, Dr. Horne said, “I was encouraged to hear Kevin speak of his faith commitment and his appreciation for the mission and vision of Ouachita.”
“We are excited about beginning a new tradition in Ouachita athletics with the addition of wrestling,” said Athletic Director David Sharp. “For high school wrestlers in the state who want to compete on the collegiate level, we will give them that opportunity.
“I look forward to working with Coach Kevin Ward,” Sharp added. “I am impressed with the knowledge and enthusiasm he brings to our program.”
Ward, age 27, holds a bachelor of arts degree in sociology and a master of science degree in health and human performance and exercise science from Oklahoma State. He served as a graduate assistant wrestling coach at OSU in 2006-2007 and worked several summers as an OSU wrestling camp counselor.
While wrestling at OSU, Ward was a two-time NCAA qualifier and 2005 Big XII champion. He was named a three-time Academic All-American by the National Wrestling Coaches Association and named three times to the 1st Team Academic All-Big XII. He also was named to the OSU President’s Honor Roll and Dean’s Honor Roll.
In his new position at Ouachita, Ward said his goal is to “draw from a lifetime of experience in wrestling to develop student athletes to achieve high levels of success both academically and athletically.”
“I’m really excited about the opportunity at Ouachita,” Ward added. “I think it’s fantastic that the school sees the potential in wrestling in Arkansas. I’m excited about the opportunity to build the program from scratch and build it into a successful, competitive program that can compete for national titles.”
Reflecting on his wrestling experience at Oklahoma State, Ward said, “I’ve been around some of the best coaches and wrestlers in the world for six years as an athlete and graduate assistant coach. I’ve gained valuated experience seeing firsthand the type of athlete it takes to get a program to that level.”
Affirming Ouachita’s Christian heritage and emphasis, Ward noted, “I have the same beliefs as the university and I’m going to recruit student-athletes with strong morals who can represent the school well. I believe the values and intangibles that athletes learn from wrestling such as commitment, discipline and sacrifice for the greater good of the team will fit in well to the university and community.”
With the addition of both men’s wrestling and women’s golf this fall, the total number of Division II athletic teams at Ouachita will expand to 16. This marks the first time that Ouachita has expanded its athletic options since 2000 when the university joined the Gulf South Conference and added men’s soccer and women’s softball.
Greg Hatcher, president of the Arkansas Wrestling Association, previously announced that the non-profit association will provide wrestling mats and uniforms to help Ouachita’s wrestling program get under way. The association also has donated wrestling mats to more than 40 Arkansas high schools to help launch their wrestling programs.
Ouachita Baptist University, located in Arkadelphia, Ark., has been ranked the No. 1 Baccalaureate College in the South for three years in a row by U.S. News & World Report. With an enrollment of approximately 1,500 students from more than 30 states and 50 nations, Ouachita seeks to foster a love of God and a love of learning in a vibrant, Christ-centered learning community.
For information about Ouachita’s wrestling program and other athletic programs, contact the OBU Athletic Department at (870) 245-5181. For information about enrollment, contact the Office of Admissions Counseling at 1-800-DIAL-OBU or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Trennis Henderson, OBU vice president for communications