Kris Ward was named the Washington Spirit's Permanent Head Coach after leading the team to its first NWSL championship in its existence.
Ward, who until yesterday had been interim head coach, made the Spirit fans' dream come true by developing the game plan that led his players to a 2-1 win over the Chicago Red Stars in the finals.
Ward came to the club in August 2020 to the Tactical Analysis Team and Player Performance Development Coach. Just a year later, he reached the position of Interim Technical Director in August 2021.
The previous DT, Richie Burke, was fired following an investigation under NWSL's anti-bullying policy, a scandal that rocked the institution, but did not stop the players from achieving glory.
With a record of 9 wins, 2 losses and 3 draws, the 42-year-old coach was able to give the club its first league title in its nine years of existence in the NWSL.
What did Ward say about his promotion to Permanent Head Coach?
"We are building something special with this club," Ward said in the statement the club released through its social networks.
"And I am honored to continue to be a part of it," the coach concluded.
For his part, team president Ben Olsen said: "Kris guided this team through a turbulent season that ultimately led to our club winning its first championship."
Olsen also said: "When you look at his track record, it's clear he's earned it. But more than that, he has helped foster a positive environment for the players. We're very happy he's still with us and we're looking forward to the 2022 season."
Kris Ward's unexpected rise
Before joining the Spirit in 2020, Ward was head coach of the men's soccer team at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, Calif.
Not only that, but he also had experience in the scouting department for the Seattle Sounders FC of MLS. There he developed his ability to identify young talent that deserved an opportunity with higher-ranked teams.
He also served as Director of Coaching with DC Soccer Club and as First Assistant with the Spirit in the club's first year in MLS. The league win is therefore very special to him as he saw the club's birth and maturation.
Now that the team will enter its ninth NWSL tournament, it will do so as defending champions, something that has undoubtedly been the culmination of Kris Ward's efforts since he arrived at the club.
What the NWSL Grand Final left as a legacy for Ward, the Spirit and the league
The final was watched by 10,360 fans who packed into Lynn Family Stadium to witness the women's soccer final in its 2021 season.
This was only the second title game in NWSL history to be decided in overtime.
And for the upcoming season, the league will welcome two new franchises, Angel City FC and San Diego Wave, organizations that will bring the number of clubs in the tournament from 10 to 12.
This shows that little by little the NWSL is consolidating itself as one of the most competitive leagues in the world and that it can provide an international projection for its athletes.