Few have given as much to their high school and community, as a player and later as a coach, as Duane Ward.
Duane lettered in football, basketball and track at Sandpoint High School, graduating in 1961 (the Class of 1961 is responsible for building the legendary Victory Bell at Barlow Stadium at War Memorial Field). In 1960 he played quarterback and line-backer on Cotton Barlow’s only undefeated football team 8-0-1 after going 8-1-0 in 1959. He then played basketball at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, and was selected Outstanding Athlete his final season.
Duane started his teaching and coaching career in Sandpoint in 1966 retiring from teaching in 1999 and coaching in 2021. Throughout his career as head coach or assistant coach he coached football, boys and girls basketball, track and cross country at all levels – Elementary School to High school. In the late 1980’s, during his years as Athletic Director, he was instrumental in adding baseball, soccer, and cross country to the sports menu at S.H.S., as well as constructing a wrestling facility, and dedicating Barlow Stadium honoring Cotton Barlow.
He was inducted into the S.H.S. Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997 and was honored by receiving the “Distinguished Coach of the Year” for Girls Basketball in 2018 from the Idaho State Coaches Association. He has the rare distinction of having guided two different sports teams to the State Tournament - Boys basketball 1970, Girls Basketball 1996, 2015,2016, 2017, 2018 - garnering a second place and two third place trophies. During Duane’s last four years as head Girls basketball coach, the teams did not lose a league game nor regional state qualifying game. He received the Coach of the Year award from the 4A Inland Empire League for each of those years. In 2015 he was chosen to coach the North Team in the Idaho State All Star Classic “The Game”.
Duane considers it an honor and privilege to have played a part in his players’ love of sports, and to see many of them compete at the next level. His fondest memories are coaching his sons, daughter, and grandchildren and watching them all play. It is very special that he coached his daughter Natalie to a second place finish in a State Tournament game in 1996 and coached his granddaughter Taylor to a third place finish in 2015 and 2016 and coached his granddaughter Hattie in the 2020 State Tournament.
He is married to his high school sweet heart, Marilyn, who was a cheerleader at S.H.S. and at LCSC. (They were married in January and Marilyn states they have spent most of their anniversaries in the gym!!) They have two sons Jeff (Debbi), and Paul (Kris), special nephew Kraig, and a daughter Natalie (Brandon) and seven grandchildren all who reside in Sandpoint!! His granddaughter Hattie Larson was voted North Idaho Co-Athlete of the year in 2020 and received the Character Award in 2021.