These last few weeks have been very emotional for our players and coaches. Emotions of joy, pride, celebration, and sadness. It has been difficult on me as the head coach because not only do I have to say goodbye to a friend, colleague, and a mentor I must move on and get ready for spring football. Of course, if you know Coach Ward you know that he does not want any attention and just wants us to take the field. I have been the head football coach at Edmond Memorial for nine years, and we could not have been as successful as we have been without Coach Tom Ward. Coach Ward has been the backbone of this program for many years. His impact can be seen in the thousands of athletes he has impacted over his 46 years of coaching. He has coached hundreds of athletes that have moved on and competed at higher levels. He has also coached athletes that have moved on to become doctors, lawyers, soldiers, husbands, fathers, and coaches. We currently have two coaches on our staff that were inspired by Coach Ward to go into coaching. Knowing him as well as I do, I know he takes pride in all of them. We all have had the feeling of joy, celebration, and pride because we are happy that we have had the opportunity to be coached by and or work with him. The feeling of sadness comes from the fact that he isn't going to be with us anymore. I say that selfishly because he has had such a huge impact on me as a coach. We are happy for him that he is going to retire but sad that he isn't going to be on the sideline pumping up our players on Friday nights waving his towel, preparing our players in the weight room, and leading our coaches' pregame prayer on Friday nights. At the time, I am writing this it has only been 24 hours since his surprise retirement celebration and my social media coordinator told me earlier this evening that his retirement video on Facebook had reached over 13,000 people and had been viewed over 6,500 times. No post we have ever made had reached over 850 people. The numbers in that should show you the love everyone has for Coach Ward. At the time of his surprise celebration our offensive players were supposed to be watching film. The first words Coach Ward said when he walked in and saw everyone was, "You're supposed to be in offensive film!" He said it as a joke but he was serious because after it was over he told the guys to get to film. Coach Ward is all about the kids and not about himself. Even at an event that was to celebrate his 46-year coaching career he took the time to inspire the kids. He could have talked about all his accomplishments, but instead he took the opportunity to leave the kids with a message. Coach said, "To be coachable you have to be humble, and if you are not humble you're not going to be coachable." I hope that I can be that passionate and have that much energy when I am his age. He has inspired all of us to better ourselves both on and off the field. He has set an example of what it is like to be a great coach, husband, and father. I know I am speaking for all of us when I say this, I am going to miss the coffee in the morning, his stories, his wisdom, his advice, and his gumbo (If you did not know Coach Ward makes the world's best gumbo). On behalf of all Bulldogs both past and present I want to say thank you Coach Ward for everything you have done for all of us, we love you, and we all wish you luck in the future.