Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

How coaching became key for Holly Ward’s development

Skyler Sharp
Junior forward Holly Ward throws an autographed soccer ball to children in the stands on October 8, 2023.

When Holly Ward reached the highest level of youth soccer for girls at the Vancouver Whitecaps she was asked to assist head coaches in younger age groups. 

“When you’re playing at the (Vancouver) Whitecaps, they pick people that are pretty vocal, confident and willing to put themselves out there,” Ward said. “They ask you if you want to coach, and you go ahead and do it.”

Ward, a junior forward for Texas soccer, accepted this role, opening a unique gateway to grow on and off the field. One of her tasks in this position was to play a support role for the younger girls, whether she was individually coaching or acting as a role model. 

Her coach at the time, Chris Sargeant, now coaching the Danish women’s team FC Nordsjælland, still remembers the impact it had on her and Ward’s impact on the team.

“When she was playing, she was very open-minded,” Sargeant said. “When she was coaching, she’d ask questions about what things to look for and … what things to be explaining to the players.”

Sargeant recalls open-mindedness being a key factor for Ward’s improvement on the field, but, also, by utilizing it while coaching, Ward found other means to further advance her game. By analyzing the girls at practice, Ward was able to treat it like another film session.

“When you’re working as a player, you’re very used to being shown what to do, being told and being asked questions,” Sargeant said. “Then, you start coaching and you’re looking at the bigger picture, you’re looking at more details, more things that aren’t specific to your own position or your own play. … It helps you to grow and understand the game in a lot more of a 360 view versus just a bit more tunnel vision of yourself.”

Now playing for Texas soccer, Ward has been able to show how impactful she can be with a better understanding of the game. Coming out of her junior season, Ward scored and assisted four goals in tournament play en route to a Big 12 tournament championship. One of the goals came in the final of the tournament against No. 6 BYU, sealing the win for the Longhorns.

This isn’t the only time that Ward has created unforgettable memories on the field.

“We were out in Montreal and we were playing a final,” Sargeant said. “We were playing a very good side, and I just remember that game. She was outstanding. … I’ll have those memories for a long time.”

Moments aside, Ward said she also grew as a person through her coaching role. While she was already a vocal player on the field, Ward was able to harness that ability to become a leader, role model and overall better person.

“It made me realize that I’m so fortunate to be where I am and to demonstrate what I can do for people that want to do what I do,” Ward said.

Now an upperclassman at UT, Ward is looking towards the future. While she expresses that she might not continue coaching, Ward has the necessary tools to work and lead kids, while inspiring them — and Sargeant knows it too.

“Maybe she finds her own route in (soccer), sports or whatever it is she wants to do that positively impacts people’s lives,” Sargeant said. “I think she will always have a positive impact wherever she goes.” 

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