Every Wednesday, Shannon Kelly will sit down with a coach's wife, a former Wolf Pack athlete or a woman in the Northern Nevada community to have a conversation over a glass of wine (or whatever drink they choose). This week, she sat down with Nevada football defensive coordinator Brian Ward's wife, Amy. They talked about moving across the country during a pandemic, life in Reno so far, living in the Midwest and some of Amy's hobbies, among other topics.
East Coast to West Coast
Brian and Amy Ward met in Arizona their junior year of high school during chemistry class, started dating in college and have been married for 25 years. Ward landed his first coaching job at his alma mater, McPherson College. The Wards have lived in more than a fifth of the United States and have three children, Travis, 17, Ellie, 14, and Erin, 11, born in three different states.
“You kind of set your roots down, meeting new people, getting involved in the community, when you have kids, there’s that aspect with school and kind of in the back of your head, you probably won’t be here forever," Amy said. "Some of the moves were hard, but I’ve met some wonderful people at each stop, some of my best friends, I still keep in touch, but I would say that’s probably the biggest challenges. There’s different things I loved about each place, and some I didn’t like, but it’s hard to say a favorite. Most of our time has been spent in the Midwest. With our kids, I would say our stop in Illinois was probably one of the hardest to leave just for their sake because that’s where they kind of got into their elementary school and made some really great friends, so that’s always hard, and as they’ve gotten older it’s been a challenge.”
While each of their stops has a story to tell, a few in particular stand out to Ward,.
“In upstate New York, (our kids) were at Syracuse University, there was the bowl game, so they got to go with the team and partake in all of the activities, so they’ve gotten to do some cool things other kids don’t get to do and meet people," Amy said. "I really think back to our time in Kansas as well. That’s where my husband was a head coach at a small college there, but my daughter was also diagnosed with diabetes at age 4 and he had already left town for a new job, so I had a great support system there of friends that really helped in the community and helped with that and when I was taking care of her at the hospital. So there has always been a spot in my heart for Kansas and one of my daughters was born there.
“It was definitely a challenge at that age, so young and they have to give you shots. What kid likes shots? But she quickly learned there wasn’t an option. In the process, we were moving to a new state so trying to find doctors, that’s another challenge with the football life and moving. She is going to 15 and she is doing great. She is very independent when it comes to her care. She doesn’t know any different.”
Amy said she feels blessed and lucky that she's been able to stay home with her kids throughout their childhood.
"Just being a part of their school and being able to help out in homeroom, go on their field trips, be home when they get home, and with my daughter being diagnosed it was really imperative that I'm available for her if she needs help at school," Amy said. "That's a whole other issue to make sure she's cared for at a young age at school, but we were very lucky with the school nurses."
Ward said he was considering multiple jobs when Nevada offered him, and added his wife, Amy, would have the final say. So I asked Amy what stuck out about Nevada.
“They were all great programs, I’m from Arizona and I love the West Coast," Amy said. "I love the heat, the landscaping, just everything about it. So when that opportunity came, I was just like “yes! We get to go back West!” It’s funny I grew up in Phoenix but I had never been to Reno. I was pleasantly surprised, the mountains they are beautiful, there’s so much to do outside, all the hiking, and Lake Tahoe, which I had never been to Lake Tahoe, so that was a sight to see. I’m excited to explore around, the kids have never been to San Francisco so I want to take them there as well. I love Reno so far, I’m just kind of itching to get out and check out restaurants and see what it has to offer. I thought it was breathtaking. I’m not familiar with the area, but we went up Mount Rose that way and when it opens up and you can see it, it took our breath away. We were able to walk on the beach a little bit. We were surprised how clear the water is and how cold it is, but the kids thought it was great and want to go back this summer.”
The first weekend in April, Amy, Erin and Ellie, (along with their hamster, Doug) packed up and moved across the country to meet Brian and Travis in Reno.
“It was quite nerve-wracking," Amy said. "My girls and I left the first weekend in April from upstate New York, which was pretty much locked down, but it worked out. It was very quiet, traffic was light, two of the nights we were the only people in hotels, maybe one or two other families, which is nice and a little nerve-wracking at the same time. Everything went smooth, we took 80 all the way across and things were open. The choices of food was a little limited, but we made it.
“It was interesting going through Chicago and the traffic was incredibly light. It was fun for the girls to see some of the country. There’s a few places they’ve decided they don’t ever want to live. Going through Salt Lake was pretty cool for them seeing the Great Salt Lake. It was kind of a little bit of a history lesson. Our original plan was to see friends from places we lived across the Midwest.”
Amy loves to watch sports, read mystery books, scrapbook, spend time with family and meet new people and explore the outdoors. Check out the video below for the full interview.
Wine Wednesday topics with Amy Ward
- Moving across the country during a pandemic – 0:00
- Adjusting to life in Reno and back on the West coast - 6:24
- Choosing Nevada over other programs - 8:42
- Amy’s hobbies – 11:25
- Meeting her husband Brian - 12:51
- Living across the Midwest and in New York - 13:45
- Best and worst things about being a football wife - 20:09
- Amy’s favorite things - 24:45