(In Picture: Former Riverview Head Coach/Athletic Director John Sprague, Katina and James Ward)

Coach James E. Ward has worked for Sarasota County Schools for the past 33 years as a Physical Education teacher, coach and Athletic Director at Riverview High School. But now his tenure and storied career comes to an end next month when he retires as the school’s Athletic Director. His teaching career will end in February of next year.

A product of the public schools of Sarasota County, Coach Ward graduated from Riverview in 1972 and earned an Associates of Arts degree from Dodge City Community College in 1974. He also graduated from Bethel College in 1976 where he majored in Physical Education, Health and Recreation with a minor in Fine Arts, and earned a Masters of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University, with an advanced Education Specialist degree in Education Leadership.

Coach Ward has worked with basketball programs in this community throughout his career. He founded City Hoops Basketball Club, a youth developmental organization which uses basketball as an instructional tool to enhance the athletic, academic and cultural competencies of young males and females. He runs a variety of camps that assists participants in developing their basketball skills, introduce them to speakers who share their experiences as collegiate and professional basketball players.

Though he’s retiring, Coach Ward will not stop working. “My goal is to be able to have the freedom to help with things that better people’s lives,” he said. “There are so many things that I have plans for after I retire; the first thing on my list is the same one that I have had during my career except now I can help more kids”

Coach Ward has always known what he wanted to do and the impact he wanted to make on the lives of children. “My journey has been great and even before I started my journey, I was prepared for it. I knew what I wanted to do. Rules, laws, and time all changed but I was able to adapt to change, see kids grow and do great things and to help push them to do them along the way. I have always had a voice for our kids and now my goal is to have even more of a voice.”

Stay tuned: his story WILL continue .