NSA names Ward as new coach

Published 10:13 pm Thursday, July 27, 2017

By Matthew Hatfield

Special to the News-Herald

It didn’t take long for Nansemond-Suffolk Academy to fill the coaching vacancy on its boys’ basketball team.

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Replacing Lamont Strothers, who went 20-26 in two seasons at the helm, will be a coaching veteran of more than 20 years, Larry Ward, who posted a 388-137 career record as the head boys’ basketball coach at Cape Henry Collegiate in Virginia Beach before stepping aside in 2011.

“There were only a couple situations that I would’ve been interested in, and Nansemond-Suffolk was certainly one of them,” Ward said. “I’ve known the good people out there on a personal level for years, and I’ve always been impressed with how they do things. I’m really excited to be a part of that community.”

Last season, the Saints improved from 8-15 to 12-11 overall and did so with four eighth-graders on the varsity roster. Only one senior, Shaun Faulk, departs.

“Coach Ward’s passion for basketball and attention to detail grabbed my attention during the interview process,” NSA Director of Athletics T.W. Johnson Jr. said. “I believe he is going to be a great addition to our campus community and an excellent mentor to our student-athletes.”

Before Ward got into coaching, he played at Virginia Wesleyan and helped the Marlins reach the NCAA Division III tournament in 1978. His coaching career began in 1979 at Cape Henry and lasted until 1984, when he decided to go into private business.

In 1997, Ward returned to Cape Henry. By the time he was done there for good, the Dolphins had won eight Tidewater Conference titles and four Metro Conference crowns. He won nine Coach of the Year awards, five in the TCIS and four in the Metro.

Ward, who’ll turn 60 in September, felt the coaching itch come back, and NSA was an ideal fit.

“I wanted to get back on the sidelines,” he said. “I really did. And I’m not quite ready to retire. I want to put this school in good hands. I want to make sure we have this program built, and we’re going to do it from the ground up.”

“We’re going to develop some players at the lower-school level, look at our youth programs, and I’ll be hands-on with that,” he explained. “In the meantime, we plan to put a competitive team out there, get after it, and I think really good things will happen.”

What style of play should fans expect from Ward’s 2017-2018 Saints?

“Honestly, I don’t know yet, because I haven’t seen the players,” he said. “I’d like to think that I have a certain style, but I always looked at what we had that year then said, ‘This is what we’ll do offensively and what we’ll do defensively.’ I can assure that I’ll adapt to what we have and put us in a good position to have success.”

“Hal Nunnally, who was a longtime coach at Randolph-Macon and a good friend of mine in mentoring, always told me, ‘Prepare your team for the five toughest opponents you’ll face and everything else will take care of itself,’” Ward said.

“I think when you get into postseason play, you have to be really good in a quarter-court set, really sound defensively and obviously you have to rebound the basketball and keep the other team guessing a little bit. That’s what we’ll try to do.”