GREENVILLE — Greenville’s Cole Ward was selected this month from a statewide pool of applicants to receive Ohio’s $500 American Legion Baseball Scholarship.
“All the money that I can get from any scholarship is pretty awesome,” said Ward, who also is now in consideration for the Diamond Sports All-Academic team and a $2,500 scholarship. “This one means a lot because baseball is a huge part of my life. Being able to play for the Legion team this year was pretty awesome.
“It means a lot to me to get this scholarship. I guess a little more than some people because my grandpa is a life member of the Legion, and I’ve talked to him about when he served and stuff like that.”
This summer Ward, the son of Chris and Stacie Ward, was a player on the American Legion Post 140 baseball team. It was the Greenville Legion’s first year of having a baseball team after a hiatus of several years.
“For him to get the scholarship is just a gold star right along with starting American Legion ball,” Post 140 Commander Norm Fullerton said. “And Cole I think is a good representative of both Legion baseball and this scholarship.”
To receive the scholarship Ward had to submit an application along with three letters of recommendation. Fullerton, Post 140 coach Dr. Thomas Martinez and a high school teacher wrote letters of recommendation for Greenville High School’s 2014 salutatorian.
“It was probably the easiest letter of recommendation that I’ve ever had to write,” Martinez said. “This scholarship and him were almost synonymous. He gave his all on the field, gave his all in the classroom, gave his all to his community.”
Ward will attend Indiana Wesleyan University and study interdisciplinary mathematics with a minor in actuarial science. He plans to work for an insurance company where he will calculate insurance rates using mathematics and statistics.
“Cole Ward is sitting here right now with money in his pocket to go to college because of baseball,” Martinez said. “This young man is going to go far, and I hope that this money helps him to continue to do those things.”
Martinez said there were more than 500 applicants from across the state for the American Legion Baseball Scholarship.
“You could have put 1,500 different applications there, and I can promise you that his would have risen to the top,” Martinez said. “I have no doubts that Cole Ward is going to be very successful no matter what he does.”
Ward will remain active with Greenville’s American Legion baseball program as he plans to return next year as an assistant coach. It was a great first season of Legion ball in Greenville this summer, he said, even though the team didn’t win a lot of games.
“I’m really excited to have been a part of the first year coming back,” he said. “I see how much talent the team has and I know that in the future we’re going to be a great, competitive team.”
Post 140 was competitive in every game it played this summer, Martinez said, and fielded a team for the local American Legion to be proud of. The team was a hot topic around the Legion, Fullerton said.
“It’s been a major uplift. Our members come in here, ‘How’s the Legion ball team doing?’” Fullerton said. “The members really support it.”
While baseball is great, Martinez said, the Legion program also helped cultivate strong men among its players.
“I’m not here to raise major league ballplayers,” the Greenville coach said. “I never become the coach so I could have major league ballplayers. I became the coach so they can become major league men. And there’s not a better example of that than Cole Ward.”
Ward said he’s appreciative of the scholarship and hopes to be a good representative for his team and the Legion.
“I’m just thankful that I can represent the post and my teammates and my coach,” he said. “Very thankful for everything that everybody’s provided for me. So hopefully when I go off to college I can make good use of the money and continue with my future like I want to do.”