Dean Linke sits down for a conversation with our Disabilities Allies Coaches Group Chair, Kate Ward. A transcription of this video can be found below: 

Dean Linke: Time now for another edition of the United Soccer Coaches Advocacy Community Spotlight and it is my great honor to put that spotlight on Kate Ward, who’s the Chair for the Disabilities Allies Group for United Soccer Coaches. Kate Ward, welcome to our spotlight.

Kate Ward: Hi Dean, thanks so much for having me excited to be here. 

Dean Linke: Yeah, we’re delighted to have you. You are a mover and a shaker, you’re even a member of the 30 under 30 class. We’ll get to that in a moment but as you reflect on what has been just a crazy year with COVID and social injustice and everything else what were some of the highlights of this year as it relates to your role as the chair?

Kate Ward: Yeah it’s been a crazy year for sure I think that our group has been able to really finally build a strong network and kind of get a monthly newsletter going as well as like monthly blogs which has been super cool to be able to highlight the different disability national teams and the different grassroots organizations as well as highlight leaders in our community and just put the spotlight on people who don’t normally get it. So that’s been super awesome for us and then we’re also excited because we finally put the finishing touch on our Coaching Players with a Disability online curriculum, which has been quite the project. I think you know, there’s so many different voices within this community and different organizations and teams, so to capture that and the levels on the spectrum in a cohesive and efficient manner has been kind of crazy but really cool. So we’re hoping to release that next year, but yeah, it’s been a whirlwind also really good in a lot of ways.

Dean Linke: So wonderful to spend time with Kate Ward. As you think about that whirlwind pushing forward into 2021 are there one or two things that you hope to accomplish next year, Kate?

Kate Ward: Yeah for sure. I think the first thing would be to get that curriculum up and running finally. Again, it’s been quite a project and then to continue to build our network and continue those monthly blogs and the newsletters as well and then just to continue to collaborate with various organizations and the disabilities soccer world and get those voices into our group because that’s a really big part of it. 

Dean Linke: I wanted to spend some time asking you about Amy Griffin. She’s the coach of the Deaf US National Team and she’s got a great panel on overcoming adversity and of course not being able to hear is certainly something that you have to overcome. She said that her team shows emotion with their smiles and that says it all. Can you touch on that?

Kate Ward: Yeah, you know Amy’s awesome. She has been so huge for our program and I think that what’s really special about our team is there’s a lot of really unique stories and we’re kind of brought together not just because we love the game but because we do face different and unique kind of difficulties and there unique to each of us as well, so not just from the able-bodied hearing but also in all our different aspects. So, that’s really cool that we’re able to capture that and also play a game that we love so much and have someone like Amy coach us is just incredible so it’s really fun.

Dean Linke: I referenced that double-double where you’re the chair here and then you’re also part of the 30 Under 30 class. That’s an impressive double-double. What’s it mean to be part of that 30 Under 30 class?

Kate Ward: Yeah, it’s super cool, you know. United Soccer Coaches has played such a huge role in my development as a coach, as a person and I feel super grateful to be given another opportunity to kind of grow and find new mentors and find a new community, so it’s really exciting.

Dean Linke: How can more people get involved in your specific advocacy group for United Soccer Coaches, Kate?

Kate Ward: I think the best way would be to reach out to one of the people on the strategy team, so whether that be me, Sean Danhouser, or Shannon Hardinger. Our contact information is up on the website and also goes on our newsletters as well which United Soccer Coaches sends out. So, that would be the best way to reach out to us

Dean Linke: I really do find you inspirational for those young boys and girls that might be thinking about coaching or might be thinking about getting involved in soccer. What are some words of inspiration you offer to them as they overcome a disability?

Kate Ward: You know, I think that for me it kind of was just like a no-brainer. I’m gonna do whatever I want to do because I can. And so to kind of seize every opportunity that you have and you’re given, I think is really really important for anyone and specifically for someone like me and to just not take no for an answer. So, those would be my words of advice. I think that you know, it’s given me a lot of cool opportunities.

Dean Linke: Kate, you inspire all of us, you really do. Thanks so much for being the chair of the Disabilities Allies Advocacy Group for United Soccer Coaches and thank you so much for letting us put the spotlight directly on you Kate Ward.
Kate Ward: Thanks, Dean.