all scores

Kris Ward describes ‘yelling’ at Spirit player in ‘frustration’ before firing

Former Spirit coach Kris Ward speaks with team owner Y. Michele Kang before a match. (Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Former Washington Spirit coach Kris Ward described the incident that contributed to his dismissal in an interview with The Athletic on Thursday night.

The 42-year-old was fired Monday after a confrontation with a player at the Spirit training ground last Friday. Spirit general manager Mark Krikorian confirmed Thursday that an incident during practice prompted the move, but he declined to provide details or to say if the incident was part of a broader pattern of behavior.

Ward recounted the event from his perspective in his conversation with The Athletic, saying it resulted from a moment of “frustration.” He admitted to “getting upset and yelling” at the player in question after she refused to leave the field during a drill.

“This is the first time where I just kind of used volume instead of pulling a player aside by myself and going through it,” Ward added.

While Ward insisted that he did not belittle the player, he did say he would change his approach if given the opportunity.

“I think, looking at it now, if I had to do it again, I would do it differently,” he said. “I think the individual calling-out of a player at that moment creates an embarrassing situation for that player. As a coach, you never really want to do that.”

Several other players expressed their displeasure with his actions, Ward said, and he told them he heard their concerns.

“One of the other players had come over and said, ‘Look, she shouldn’t have talked back, you were entitled to say what you wanted to say, but it looked like, as you were walking after her, that made it look a little bit aggressive,’” he recounted.

Ahead of the Spirit’s planned weekend retreat, Ward said he held a meeting with the players, Krikorian and assistant coach Angela Salem. At the meeting, he apologized and acknowledged the players’ concerns, according to Ward — but soon afterward, he was told to skip the retreat to allow everyone to “decompress.”

Ward was notified Monday that he had been fired during a meeting with Krikorian and the club’s general counsel. The team tweeted the news soon after, writing, “Kris Ward has been relieved of his duties as head coach.”

Ward’s dismissal comes amid a 17-match winless streak after a championship 2021 season.