D10 Chicago newcomer, Kevin Ward, has high hopes for his first Game Day. It's singular -- Top Male Athlete. Brash? Maybe. They teach brash at Iowa football.
The former Iowa Hawkeye defensive and special teams standout drives himself when it comes to training for his inaugural D10 competition. He uses no coaches, no trainers, no workout partners. It's Kevin Ward against Kevin Ward, trying to overcome that D10 hurdle facing all former football players -- how the heck do you run an 800M?
Luckily for Kevin, before he added pounds for college ball, he was a high school 400M runner. He's got that background to fall back on. But it's still the bench press with a lofty goal of 40 reps, where he intends to make his bones. Kevin took a brief shot at NFL playing time out of college, so he's up on Combine style events. Minus that 800M, of course.
Kevin Ward pre-game talk with the press prior to 2017 Hawkeyes game
Like many ballers out of college, Kevin found that he immediately missed the thrill of competition, of Saturday Game Day and training hard for those monumental moments. The D10 caters to these former collegiate players, in their physical prime, but unable to take part in organized sports any longer. Where do you focus all this drive and physical talent? This is where The D10 lives.
In school sports, you learn that the team is greater than the self. Through The D10, you learn that commitment to the world around you is greater than the team. Inspiration meets elevation; athleticism with a more profound purpose. This is how D10 athletes have raised in excess of $14 million for pediatric cancer research at America's leading oncology institutions.
The youngest in a multi-generational family of collegiate sports and scholar standouts, Kevin was brought up on the spirit of the internal drive. If you've seen the J.J. Watt Gatorade commercial on having your greatest rival fuel your ambition, you will note as Watt notes that often that rival lives under the same roof. You get the feeling that the Ward family backyard games were intense.
“He’s a captain for a reason. He’s a four-phase special teams guy. When his number was called this last weekend, he stepped right in the role and we really didn’t miss a beat. You want a team made up of guys like him, definitely.”Before he even graduated from Iowa, Kevin's own brother sent him a magazine article on The D10, presumably that Men's Health article on The Beast of Wall Street, that drew so much attention from the competitive athletes among us. His brother thought The D10 would be a perfect outlet for Kevin post-Iowa football. Kevin never forgot that read. This year he signed up for The D10 Chicago, the closest to his residence in Iowa.
[Iowa linebacker Ben Niemann, commenting on Kevin Ward following a 2017 game.]
Kevin works for Stryker Orthopaedics by day, bringing ortho implants directly into the operating room. By even earlier in the day, he can be found back on the Iowa campus gym repping hard on D10 events, general strength and conditioning, and hitting that track for test runs.
"My plan on the 800 is to run the first 400 hard and then figure things out from there."Talking to Kevin you get the feeling he's got the grit to make a go of perhaps not the most advanced game plan ever.
Kevin Ward (26) bringing down the ball carrier (photo credit: Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
The same may be said of Kevin's fundraising journey. He's winging it, but winging it so hard he's killing it on behalf of pediatric cancer research. It's what used to be called "gumption". When gumption is mixed with more experience, watch out. Kevin Ward will be a D10 force to be reckoned with for years to come.
Chicago is a growing D10 market in the heart of the Midwest region. Athletes with a combination of hardcore commitment to training and the D10's charitable mission will be its core. This is the time for great excitement. At least as exciting as watching this former Hawkeye strain out that last 400 meters on the final event of Game Day.
On behalf of Kevin's gumption, please make a charitable donation to Kevin's fundraising efforts for MSK Kids, Children's Cancer Research. Kevin promises his 2019 Game Day performance in Chicago will live up to your support.