EL PASO, Texas – The ESPY Awards announced earlier this week that Kate Ward, an assistant coach with the UTEP soccer program, has been named a finalist for the ESPY for Best Athlete With A Disability, Women’s Sports.
Fans can cast their votes now and tune in to the ESPYS on ABC on July 20 at 6 p.m. MT.
Ward, a member of the United States Deaf Soccer Women’s National Team, won her fifth career gold medal earlier this year when the U.S. took top honors at the Deaflympics in Brazil. Ward has claimed three golds in the Deaflympics and two in the Deaf World Cup. She has been an active member of the national team since 2009 when she was 15.
“I started playing soccer when I was six years old and I fell in love with it right away,” Ward said. “I think part of the reason for that was that it allowed me to be like everyone else. I think sports create a level playing field. I lost my hearing when I was six years old and it’s around then when I kind of grabbed ahold of soccer and just loved it. The soccer field has always been a really special place for me to be and I have enjoyed every part of it.”
When she was just three years old, Ward’s parents found out that she was deaf in one ear and hard of hearing in the other. She originally started with hearing aids until she was six years old. At the age of six, she lost all of the remaining ability to hear that she had, leading her to receive a cochlear implant.
“The cochlear implant basically stimulates hearing, but not the same way that most people can hear,” Ward said. “That kind of allowed me into the hearing world.”
Ward will be entering her fourth season as an assistant with the Miners this year.
Other finalists for the ESPY are cross country skier, cyclist and biathlete Oksana Masters, swimmer Jessica Long and snowboarder Brenna Huckaby.