Jolie Ward, who has earned more than 200 career victories in four different stops, is entering her second year as the head volleyball coach at Princeton. Ward replaced the retired Glenn Nelson, who won a Princeton record 580 games and 11 Ivy League titles as the Tiger head coach. Ward will serve as both the head coach and women's recruiting coordinator.
“Jolie Ward impressed us with her energy and her enthusiasm, and she has done an outstanding job of building program from the foundation up,” Walters said during the announcement. “She went to three NCAA tournaments at Eastern Connecticut, and she did very well at Manhattan as she made the move to Division I. We're excited to have her at Princeton."
“I’m humbled to take over this position at Princeton and it is a dream come true to coach within the Ivy League,” Ward said. “To work with student-athletes who have career endeavors outside of athletics is exciting. I look forward to the opportunity to work with student-athletes who desire to achieve both academically and athletically.”
In her first season at Princeton, Ward took a lineup that lost four starters to graduation and helped build a strong second-half turnaround. After dropping 12 of the its first 14 matches, Princeton went on to win nine of its next 11 and climb into third place in the Ivy League standings. Sheena Donohue earned first-team All-Ivy honors under Ward, while fellow outside Lydia Rudnick was one of the league's top freshmen and a former Ivy League Rookie of the Week honoree.
A 3-1 home victory over Columbia was the 200th of her career. A native of Bellport, N.Y., she spent one year at Manhattan after a successful five-year stint at Eastern Connecticut State University. In her one year with the Jaspers, Ward guided the team to a winning record in the MAAC; the previous season, Manhattan went 5-13 in the league. Though the Jaspers missed the MAAC tournament, they stayed in the hunt until the final day of the season.
Ward compiled a 104-84 (.553) record over her five years at Eastern Connecticut State and became just the second coach in program history to exceed the 100-win plateau. She guided the Warriors to three consecutive Little East Conference tournament championships, earning automatic bids to the NCAA tournament in 2005, 2006 and 2007. She also produced three consecutive regular season titles from 2004-06. At the conclusion of the 2005 season, she was named Little East Conference Coach of the Year after posting a 28-11 overall record and a 6-1 conference mark.
While at Eastern Connecticut State, Ward coached 12 all-league selections and 10 Little East Conference Players of the Week. Additionally, she coached two conference Players of the Year, two Little East Tournament Most Outstanding Players, two NCAA All-New England Region recipients and an honorable mention All-American.
Off the court, Ward’s student-athletes have enjoyed benchmark success in the classroom. In 2005, her squad earned Eastern Connecticut State University Academic Team of the Year honors. She also mentored two ECSU Female Sports Person of the Year recipients (2004, 2006).
Prior to Eastern Connecticut State, Ward served as the head women’s volleyball coach at Farmingdale State University for five years and compiled an 86-61 (.585) overall record. Ward helped facilitate the program’s transition to the NCAA Division III status following her second season and went on to post a 51-37 (.580) record while competing at this level. In 2000, Ward guided the team to a 21-7 mark.
Ward, a four-year letterwinner, began her collegiate playing career at Stony Brook University, where she helped lead the Seawolves to back-to-back NCAA Division III tournament berths in 1993 and 1994. Stony Brook advanced to the Sweet 16 in 1993 and Elite Eight in 1994. In 1995, the squad earned the ECAC title after moving to the Division II level. An outside hitter for Stony Brook, Ward was an all-tournament team selection, league player of the week and the team co-captain, and she also earned the team’s most improved player honor as a junior.
Ward exhausted her eligibility in 1997 as a graduate student at Dowling College, where she was a middle blocker. During that season, she served as team captain and led Dowling to a berth in the NCAA Division II tournament, as well as the Division II ECAC championship. For her efforts, she earned a share of team MVP honors and was again selected to the all-tournament team.
Her on-court versatility extended to another position, as she served as defensive specialist for the New York City squad in the 1998 Empire State team.
Princeton is coming off an 18-4 season and a second-place finish in the Ivy League. The Tigers, who have won 14 Ivy League titles over the last three decades, return three starters, including All-Ivy outside hitter Sheena Donohue.