Charlie Ward is one of the few athletes to ever play professionally in both the NFL and the NBA at the same time.
Growing up in a small, tightknit town in Georgia where everyone knows everyone, Charlie’s now 81-year-old mother and 78-year-old father (who have been married for over 50 years) instilled in their son many values.
And through that solid upbringing in a close community, Charlie learned integrity, accountability, and how to be a good team player with unification in everything you do.
“As a competitor, you want to be the best you can be,” he said.
In college, Charlie had been recruited for football, but showed interest in basketball quite a few times. He ended up joining an intramural team after school, and his teammates eventually talked the college coaches into bringing him onto their team. He joined his sophomore year, and from then until his graduation, he played basketball along with football.
Reflecting, Charlie advises future multiple-sport athletes to stick to those that complement one another. For example, if you play football, you might want to also run track or do weightlifting, so everything coincides.
The former 1993 Heisman Trophy winner credits his coaches from all the way back to middle school and right on through high school, college, and eventually, his pro career, for teaching him that with integrity and accountability, there is little he can’t accomplish. Charlie’s own experience with mentors resulted in his viewing of athletic teams as family away from home—a network of support—so kids can grow into not only great athletes, but people.
And now, Charlie relies on that experience as motivation to provide the same type of support he received to today’s youth via his work as a coach, speaker, and motivator. Part of his mission includes impacting the community in a positive way by working closely with schools.
He is also very active with The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), which seeks “to make disciples through methods of engaging, equipping, and empowering coaches and athletes to know and grow in Christ and lead others to do the same.”
His main goal? To teach kids how to build a strong foundation and grow from challenges.
“When challenges arise, pray,” Charlie advises. “Think about your choices, and do what you feel will best help you learn and grow from the challenge. When you make a decision, live with it. You can prepare for the game, but there will always be ups and downs throughout the course of it. You will need to make adjustments.”
In 2020, Charlie decided to add podcasting to his list of passions. The idea for his show, Bleav in The ACC, came easily, because he was used to doing interviews in professional sports and could so easily relate to athletes. It now airs twice a week in one-hour segments. He and his co-host, Llyod Spence, strive to provide the most accurate and up-to-date highlights of the world of football and basketball. They discuss all things Atlantic Coast Conference, drafts, playoffs, championships, and cancelations, recap games, interview athletes and coaches, and provide COVID-19 updates as they pertain to the world of sports.
February 2021 Issue