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April 21, 2012

Thad Ward and family excited about WMU and Kalamazoo

In the end, it came down to comfort for new Western Michigan wide receivers coach Thad Ward and his family.

Ward was happy at his former job as passing game coordinator at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C., but when WMU came calling for an interview he felt he had to take a look. By the time he left, he knew he wanted the job.

The first thing that stuck out to Ward was the high level of camaraderie among the coaching staff.

"Literally within ten minutes of walking in, I see the offensive staff coming back with the defensive staff from lunch, so that's a positive sign with me," Ward said. "I've been doing this for over 11 years, and it doesn't happen like that all the time. Guys have their cliques, but it's not like that here."

Ward takes caution when considering new jobs, something that is evident when looking at his history. In a business that assistant coaches will routinely work a job for one year before moving on, Ward spent six years at Western Illinois University, which shows his concern for his family.

"The thing is, you never want to move your family all around the country, but this is a great opportunity. I feel like I've been blessed," Ward said.

Western Michigan was able to decide on Ward fairly easily, as he had prior relationships with assistants Ryan Cubit and Lou Esposito, which is very important to head coach Bill Cubit in the hiring process. The comfort level between staff members is one of the major selling points for applicants at WMU.

Ward, meanwhile, is looking forward to moving his family up to Kalamazoo very soon. While the weather is not a favorite of theirs, the Wards are nonetheless used to living up north from their time at Western Illinois, and Kalamazoo will be the largest city they have lived in, something Ward spoke of with obvious excitement.

"This is a great place to raise a family. Great people, and the people make a place, great food choices. We're looking forward to being here for a while, and doing some great things in the community," Ward said.

As for the job itself, Ward is looking forward to the learning experience under WMU's complex aerial attack, and plans to be a sponge when it comes to Bill Cubit's knowledge of the offensive side of the game. Wide receivers coach is not the easiest position to take at WMU right now, as three standouts are gone and the Broncos must replace them with a host of young and inexperienced players. Ward relishes this opportunity.

"I was told right off the bat it would be a challenge. That's what I wanted," he said.

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