After three seasons of smashing the competition in the college ranks, Jadon Ward is ready to ‘Run with the Pack’ at the university level.
Ward, 21, is a Seaton Sonics grad who spent three seasons in Abbotsford with the Columbia Bible College Bearcats men’s volleyball team, going to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association nationals twice.
“Out of high school I had a lot of options for volleyball. For me it was about going to a place with competitive ball and a chance to learn about my faith,” said Ward.
Three years later, Ward went looking for the next challenge, the CIS. He red-shirted last season for the University of Fraser Valley Cascades and is transferring to Thompson Rivers University and joining the WolfPack this fall in Kamloops.
“The decision was pretty easy; TRU plays at a higher level and I want to try it out,” said Ward, who obtained his bachelor of arts degree while at CBC. “It’s pretty close to home and I know a few people on the team.”
The 6-foot-8 Ward played on Team B.C. with current WolfPack players Brad Gunter, Graham Stoliker and Nic Balasz during the 2011 Western Canada Summer Games. He will also reunite with former Sonic Charles Oduro Jr.
“Charles is a big reason why I am heading to TRU. He is a good friend and I like to play alongside him,” said Ward, who will study psychology.
Pat Hennelly is the men’s volleyball coach at TRU and worked with Ward on Team B.C. during the Western Canada Summer Games which took place on the WolfPack’s home court, the Tournament Capital Centre.
“I really liked playing underneath him, he is a great coach,” said Ward.
Ward’s offensive prowess should bolster the 13-11 Pack’s attack next season as they search for a return to the national spotlight.
“I am looking forward to adding Jadon to our program. I have been following him ever since the Western Canada Summer Games,” said Hennelly. “I like Jadon’s versatility. He has played both middle and the right side in the CCAA.”
During his first year at CBC, Ward and the Bearcats hosted nationals. It’s an experience he won’t soon forget.
“Playing in front of 1,000, 2,000 fans was pretty sweet. I didn’t get nervous or anything, it was just awesome when the crowd went wild after each point,” recalled Ward.
Despite Ward’s 10-block performance in the semifinals, the Bearcats lost to Douglas Royals of New Westminster and finished fourth.
Ward was planning on red-shirting a year regardless of where he went in order to complete his internship with the Gateway Community Christian Reform Church, working with the ministry.
That way he could practice, work, go to school and maintain CIS eligibility down the road.
“Jadon is a good student, hard worker and nice guy. He will help our practice environment and help transition this program from the veterans this year to the younger guys in 2016-17,” said Hennelly.
“Jadon brings a great presence at the net especially with blocking. He has a consistent serve. Ward is a fiend on offence, playing the middle or right side attack positions.”
“The right side has more glory to it, and the middle is more challenging and carries greater responsibility,” said Ward. “I always like the challenge of playing in the middle.”
The WolfPack are a year removed from taking bronze at the CIS West finals. Gunter, who was CIS Player of the Year in 2013-14, missed most of last season with an injury.