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A face of northern Colorado sports, Niwot’s Terri Ward feeling good about retirement

Longtime Cougars coach announced retirement after Season B, with 302 career wins

Niwot girls basketball coach Terri Ward ...
Daily Camera file photo
Terri Ward has worn many hats throughout her career in sports, from being a high school coach to serving multiple positions within the Sportswomen of Colorado organization. She recently announced her retirement from coaching.
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Few people have been as ingrained in high school girls basketball in Colorado as Terri Ward, so her decision to retire following the Season B campaign resonated across Colorado and beyond.

Ward certainly doesn’t love coaching or basketball or molding young student-athletes any less. But the veteran coach has been a dedicated champion for Niwot, her high school alma mater, as well as girls and women’s basketball from Colorado to the national level for the last three decades.

It’s finally just time for Ward to focus her seemingly limitless energy toward other priorities.

“I’m not sure there’s ever a right time to retire,” Ward said. “It just kind of felt like this was the time after all the years. COVID had nothing to do with me retiring. For me, it just felt like time with my parents getting older, I just want to feel like I can be there for them without worrying about whether I have practice or a game, things like that. I just want to be around more for my parents.”

Ward said she also wants to travel and visit friends who are still coaching at the college level, something she has not been able to do while promoting the sport she loves in so many ways over the years. She even tried retiring from coaching once in 2010, after the first stint of her 28-year tenure at Niwot before returning in 2013 for another lengthy run during a time when coaching turnover at the high school level has reached an all-time high.

Ward, however, wasn’t inducted into the CHSAA Hall of Fame in 2018 for her lengthy tenure at Niwot. The University of Northern Colorado graduate has done a great many things from teaching special education PE in the St. Vrain Valley School District to directing basketball operations at the University of Colorado under former head coach Ceal Barry.

Ward also serves on the board of directors for Sportswomen of Colorado, is president of Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports and volunteers with USA Basketball in a variety of roles.

For those around her like SVVSD athletic director Chase McBride, all Terri Ward has done for girls basketball in Colorado is a wonder.

“Terri Ward is a legend,” McBride said. “I’ve known her for many years and the impact she’s made on women’s sports is incomparable. She’s a once-in-a-lifetime influencer. Without Terri, young women in our state wouldn’t have the opportunities they do now. She’ll be forever missed, but her impact will last forever.”

Though she has retired from coaching at Niwot, with 302 career wins, Ward doesn’t plan to completely remove herself from Colorado’s basketball community at once. That would be too difficult for someone who has dedicated her life to the sport the way Ward has. And in whatever professional or personal capacity she is in moving forward, Ward expects she’ll never lose the passion for educating and supporting young athletes that sustained her for so many years as a coach.

“It’s about being a teacher, teaching the game, teaching kids the love of the game and teaching them about life more than anything,” Ward said. “You’re more than just a basketball coach. During the season, you spend more time with them than their parents do. You’re responsible for making sure they’re good people and realizing there are other things outside of athletics like being a good student and a good member of your community.

“To the people who are in it for the right reasons, it’s about making kids better.”

Daily Camera file photo
Terri Ward shares a laugh with players and coaching during a 2019 practice.