Q&A With New Assistant Gymnastics Coach Kari Ward

July 20, 2009

Question and Answer session with new assistant coach: Kari Ward

First of all, congratulations on your new job! How does it feel to get the opportunity to work for your alma mater?
It feels absolutely wonderful to be a Sun Devil again. I feel so honored to get the opportunity to give back to the program that gave me so much!

What are you most looking forward to in this position?
I'm looking forward to having a job where I love to come to work everyday. I'm looking forward to inspiring these gymnasts to be better athletes, students, and teammates.

When you were a gymnast, the Sun Devils went to the NCAA Championships three out of the four years, what do you think it will take for the Sun Devils to return to national prominence?
It's going to take a lot of hard work from everybody, including the entire Sun Devil staff. I really believe we have to build more team cohesiveness and excitement over the sport of gymnastics. We need to build the confidence in these girls by gaining success in workouts and in competition. They need to have confidence and trust in one another to get the job done. That kind of confidence, consistency, and drive will return us to NCAA Championships.

What is your favorite memory as a Sun Devil gymnast?
My favorite memory has to be beating the University of Utah in their arena, in front of 10,000 of their fans. It was one of the most invigorating moments of my life. I want these girls to have that same experience.

You served as the graduate assistant in compliance the last two years. What skills can you take from that in your new position?
To begin with, I understand the amount of paperwork and organization required to be a coach. Also, prior knowledge of the NCAA rules is a great skill to have. It definitely makes me appreciate all of the hard work that compliance puts into running a successful athletic department. They have an extremely hard job and I appreciate everything they have done, and all that it has taught me.

What are your roles as assistant coach going to be? Are you going to be choreographing floor and beam?
In the office, my roles as assistant coach include organizing the recruiting, the paperwork, and providing assistance where needed. In the gym, I will be coaching beam and floor. I should've answered the next question in the question about what I'm looking forward to in this position. I am extremely excited about doing the choreography for these girls. I really feel this is an area that I can make an impact. I'd love for the girls' routines to be unique, and stand out among other schools. The girls are going to be little `show-men' out there on the floor by playing to the crowd and the judges.

How long have you been involved in gymnastics?
Well, I started gymnastics when I was 2 years old, and I've been involved ever since. If I told you what year that was, you would know how old I was... so I'm not going to tell you, haha.

You also are pursuing a dietetic certificate. How do you feel this will help you in coaching gymnastics?
My experience finishing up my dietetic degree is a great asset to have when working with such high-class athletes. It's great to instill in these gymnasts the importance of a healthy diet on their performance. It is also important for the girls to have a close and knowledgeable person to go to and feel comfortable talking about their food choices, and issues they might be having with food or their body.

What are some things you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In my spare time, I love making and sewing handmade handbags. I usually make them for gifts for friends and family! I also love to watch movies with my husband, Emerson. We are big moviegoers and movie renters. And who doesn't love to shop!

What is your favorite spot to visit in the state of Arizona?
My husband and I love to go to Sedona. We have two little dogs, a 7-year-old dachshund named Joey, and a white little stray dog named Katie. We love to take them hiking where the weather is beautiful.

Any plans for the rest of the summer?
Two of our good friends, who were also athletes at ASU are getting married in Fort Collins, Colo., this August. Emerson and I are both in the wedding, so we are looking forward to a little vacation in the cool weather!

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