Aaron Ward said he loves sports and working with kids, so his new job as the athletic director and assistant principal at Bucksport High School allows him to be involved in both.
“I love it. It’s great to be able to work with so many kids and try to help them be as successful as they can be,” said the 38-year-old Ward, who was social studies teacher at Mattanawcook Academy in Lincoln before replacing Jared Foster as the AD and assistant principal at Bucksport.
He coached the girls tennis team at Mattanawcook to back-to-back Class B state championships in 2018 and 2019 and also coached the boys tennis and boys soccer teams.
Ward directed the boys and girls tennis teams for 12 years and led the Lynx boys soccer team for its first eight varsity seasons. The girls tennis team hasn’t lost a match in 2.5 years.
“After coaching tennis for 12 years and starting a soccer program, this gives me the opportunity to take another step,” Ward said.
It is his first stint as an administrator.
“I’m excited to be here. Growing up in Searsport, in a way I’m coming home,” he said. “It is obviously a very passionate sports community.”
Wards said he is blessed to have so many outstanding veteran coaches like Joel Sankey [football], Mike Carrier [softball], Chris Jones [cross country] and Mike Garcelon [girls soccer] to work with at Bucksport.
“I’m really fortunate to have a group of experienced coaches with their knowledge,” Ward said.
Bucksport was the 2019 Class D North football titleist after losing in the regional title game to Foxcroft Academy the previous two years. The softball team has won four Class C state championships over the last eight seasons.
Ward’s goals are to help maintain that high level of success and provide an opportunity for athletes to have a say in the program.
“What I’d like to do in the short term is to set up a student athletic advisory council to get students more involved in the decision-making process,” he said.
“Through this whole situation with COVID-19 and all the decisions that have been made, we were missing a huge voice [of the students].”
Having a student athletic advisory council would allow him to interact with student-athletes and help answer some of their questions pertaining to things such as coronavirus safety protocols.
In the long term, Ward has observed that Bucksport has tennis courts but doesn’t have a boys or girls varsity tennis team.
“The more opportunities you create for kids, the better off you are,” he said.
Ward played soccer, basketball and baseball at Searsport High and his 1999 team reached the Class C soccer state final where it lost 2-1 to North Yarmouth Academy.
Ward graduated from the University of Maine with a degree in secondary education and is close to finishing up his master’s degree in educational leadership at UMaine.
He is thankful Bucksport is one of the few schools in the region that held voluntary workouts sanctioned by the Maine Principals’ Association for its athletes during the summer.
“Navigating through that has helped us to get where we are now and it will make it easier for us as we move toward normalcy,” he said. “It was nice of the coaches to do what they had to do to get the kids here and how willing everyone was to do it.”
Ward and his wife, Jessica, have two children: Landon, 7, and Addie, 3.