Jim Mike Ward begins his third year at Cumberland University as a Character Coach, helping coaches and student-athletes with resolving conflict and working through ethical and moral dilemmas that occur.
Ward is currently a regional pastor with Nations of Coaches, an organization that “strives to see coaches, their families and all of those whom they influence powerfully impacted for the glory of God.” He has served in the capacity with Nations of Coaches since 2011, training at the Chick-fil-A Leadership Center in Atlanta in 2013 and 2014.
Taken from the Nations of Coaches website, “The character coach is a servant and serves at the pleasure of the head coach. The overall objective is to help build the complete player (heart, body and mind of the student-athlete). A Character Coach strives to help coaches and players not only win on the court but also in life.
“The purpose of a Character Coach is to pour into the lives of coaches and student-athletes. There are many ways a Character Coach does this: relationship building, character development studies, mentoring and just simply being there for the coaches and players.”
He also completed the Peacemaker Ministries International Training classes in 2006, including resolving everyday conflict, conflict coaching, mediation and reconciling marital and church conflict.
Ward spent more than 30 years in ministry, serving as the Youth and Children’s Minister at North Parkersburg Baptist Church in Parkersburg, W.Va., from 1979-1992. He was the Lead Pastor at First Baptist Church in Summersville, W.Va., for the next two years before moving into the same role at First Baptist Church in Williamstown, W.Va., for 15 years.
In 2011 he became Associate Pastor at South Parkersburg Baptist Church for one year before taking over as Lead Pastor at Pine Grove Baptist Church in Parkersburg. He and his wife of 43 years, the former Carolyn Hoag Ward of Huntington, W.Va., moved to middle Tennessee in 2015. The couple has two sons and three grandchildren, with son, Todd, and his two sons living in Franklin, Tenn.
Ward served as a basketball official for 36 years, starting in the West Virginia High School Athletic Conference before moving into the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and then into Division I in the Sun Belt, Southern and Mid-American Conferences. He was also a high school teacher and coach at Gallia Academy in Gallipolis, Ohio, as well as Milton High School in Milton, W.Va., and finally Parkersburg High School from 1973-79.
Ward earned his bachelor’s in Education from Marshall University in 1973 and a master’s in Education from Salem University in 1979. He was ordained as a minister from the West Virginia Baptist Convention in 1992.