Eric Peterson, Published June 11 2013
Wait for Omaha ends for former RedHawks player Brian Ward
The former Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks second baseman didn’t want his first trip to the event to be as a spectator.
“I’ve been trying to save it for either as a player or a coach,” said Ward, an assistant coach at North Carolina State.
“It’s something I wanted to do before my coaching career was over.”
The Wolfpack (49-14) beat Rice on Sunday in the super regional to earn a trip to Omaha.
N.C. State will be making its first appearance in the event since 1968.
“Doing it as a player is what you dream about, but it’s good, too, to be a coach,” said Ward, who was also a player at N.C. State for two seasons. “You are trying to fulfill some other young kids’ dreams.”
Ward played four seasons (2002-2005) with the RedHawks. He was a sure-handed defender who made just six errors in 90 games in the 2002 season. Ward’s lowest fielding percentage with F-M in a season was .966. He had a .270 batting average in his career with the RedHawks, averaging 20 doubles per season.
“He always wanted to be in the coaching,” F-M manager Doug Simunic said of Ward. “He always wanted to be around baseball.”
N.C. State plays its first game at the College World Series on Sunday against top-ranked North Carolina.
Ward joined the Wolpack coaching staff prior to the 2008 season. He’s been a volunteer assistant for six seasons there. While he’s not paid a salary by the university, he does get paid for helping run the program’s baseball camps.
Soon after N.C. State clinched its spot in the CWS, Ward was flooded with text messages from friends – ranging from Fargo to Namibia.
“I got a text message from someone I know who was on vacation in, I can’t even pronounce the name,” Ward said with a laugh, referring to Namibia, which is located in Africa.
The Fargo text messages came from RedHawks general manager Josh Buchholz and coach Bucky Burgau.
Ward said his four years with the RedHawks were memorable. He helped the team win a Northern League title in 2003.
“Everyone treated my family really well, too,” Ward said. “I felt really wanted and safe to have my family up there all the time.”
Ward helps his wife, Monica, run a gymnastics facility in the Raleigh area. Monica is the head coach at the gym. Brian helps with the business side of the operation when he’s not busy coaching baseball.
Ward – who coaches first base for the Wolfpack – is primed for N.C. State’s historic trip to Omaha.
“I’m sure there is going to be butterflies and anxiousness,” he said. “Everything is elevated. … In some ways, there is added pressure. In some ways, hopefully, there is a relaxation.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.
Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com