By Tim Linafelt
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
@Tim_Linafelt on Twitter
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As a player, Courtney Ward sparked the Florida State women’s basketball team to one of the most prosperous runs in program history.
Three years after her graduation, basketball has brought Ward back to Tallahassee — this time as a coach.
Ward will be on the bench today as a volunteer assistant for Faulkner University. FSU hosts the Lady Eagles in an exhibition at 2 p.m.
“It’s always good for me to get to come down and see everybody again,” Ward said. “Not only Coach Sue and the staff and the players, but also the fans that remember me as well.”
Ward gave FSU fans plenty to remember. After a four-year career (2007-11), she finished with school records for wins (98), career 3-pointers (208), 3-pointers in a season (78), career assists (602) and assists in a season (170).
Ward twice earned All-ACC honors at point guard and helped FSU to back-to-back ACC regular season titles and a first-ever trip to the Elite Eight.
“She was huge,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said. “There’s a lot of players now that think it’s got to be instant gratification, quick and easy, and it’s not. And Courtney is a great example of that.”
After leaving Florida State, Ward had a brief stint with the WNBA’s Seattle Storm then spent a season with Italian club Pozzuoli.
But the challenges of playing overseas as well as the birth of her son, Kyrie, led Ward back to her home town of Montgomery, Ala.
Ward, however, wanted to remain in basketball, which led her to Faulkner, a private Christian university in Montgomery.
She met Lady Eagles coach Reed Sutton through a mutual acquaintance, and joined the staff in 2012.
“He gave me an opportunity to come in and help with them, and I’ve stuck with him ever since,” said Ward, who also graduated from the Montgomery Police Academy earlier this year.
Ward’s foray into coaching doesn’t come as a surprise to Semrau. She said that Ward’s recent experience helps her relate to current players in a way that veteran coaches sometimes can’t.
“I think that’s just so cool,” Semrau said. “She learned so much during her time here and grew so much. For her to feel like, ‘Hey, I want to do that for someone else,’ is just a compliment to the program.
“I think it’s a compliment to all of the coaches that have been here and coached during her tenure. And it’s a compliment to her, for feeling like it’s really important. It touched her life in a way that she now wants to touch others.”