Don Ward, 2014 Inductee

Don Ward

Don is a true product of the 08 area, growing up on Lincoln Street and China Grade Loop in Oildale. He attended Standard School from Kindergarten through the 8th grade. After one year at Bakersfield High School, he, along with hundreds of other Oildale “River Rats”, was fortunate to be the in the first group of students to enter North High School. This group of sophomores is responsible for the school colors being red and grey and the team names being the Stars, Comets and Twinks when the school opened.

While at North, Don participated in football and baseball for 3 years, and, basketball for 2 years. In 1953 he was named the Most Outstanding Player on the first undefeated football team in North’s history, the B class Comets. In 1954 & 55 he earned the top “Student Athlete” award on the varsity football team. He played B class basketball for 2 years, playing in the B class Valley finals in 1955. He was a 3 year starter at 3rd base for the varsity baseball team. His proudest moment at North High occurred in the fall of 1954, when he quarterbacked the varsity football team to its only Valley Championship to date. During his athletic participation years, he was fortunate to play for 2 coaches who are also members of the North High Athletic Hall of Fame, Jordan “Turk” Eliades and Dick Heber.

After high school, Don attended Stanford University for one year. He was then drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps through the Reserve Program, but, got an ‘’early out” to go back to school. In 1959, he was a member of the National Champion B.C. Renegade football team. In 1960 he entered the University of Nevada at Reno to play football and finish his college education. During fall practice he broke his right shoulder, which finished his playing days. In the fall of 1961 he was asked to help coach the freshman football team at the University of Reno, thus beginning the career that would last for 40 years.

Don returned to Bakersfield in 1963 to begin his teaching and coaching career at South High School. For 28 years he was a math teacher and coach at the school. He coached football for all 28 years including being head varsity coach for 15 of those years. He also spent 15 years at South with the baseball program, eight of those as head varsity coach. During this time, he was lucky to have come in contact with hundreds of outstanding young men who have grown up to be contributors and leaders in their communities. He was also fortunate to coach athletes who have gone on to the professional ranks in both football and baseball. During the last 10 years in education, he served as Athletic Director of the first new high school in the Kern High School District in 21 years. While at Stockdale High, Don created an exceptional coaching staff for this brand new school.

Don is happily retired now and enjoying life with his wife of 52 years, Lorraine. They spend time traveling, golfing, and spending the time together that they missed during his teaching and coaching years.