This future healer serves up aces on the court

Ainsley Ward

Ainsley+Ward+hitting+a+tennis+ball+on+the+courts+behind+MTHS.

© HAWKEYE Emmalee Harmon

Ainsley Ward refining her tennis skills by practicing on the Terrace courts.

By Phuong Lam and Maggie O'Hara

When senior Ainsley Ward first came to Terrace, she had about as much of an idea of what to do and who she was as any other freshman.

“I had no clue as to who I really was,” Ward said. “I was shy, introverted and rather quiet.”

In the years since however, she was able to become more sure of herself, and confident in the person she’s become.

“Terrace helped me discover who I am, and I’ve learned to be a better person while attending,” she said. “I feel that I am a real person, rather than someone wandering around and trying to figure out what in life they want to do. It’s thanks to Terrace I’ve discovered who I am, and [met] some people I hope to remain close to.”

Throughout her years at Terrace, Ward has participated in several sports, always finding a way to stay active regardless of the weather or season. When she’s not shooting hoops or kicking balls, Ward spends her time connecting with the community and having fun in clubs. As a part of the creative writing club, Dungeons and Dragons club, Connect and ASB as the class of 2022 vice president, Ward has had her hands full of school activities across the board. However, taking on so many roles and pushing herself out of her comfort zone gave Ward the opportunity to really grow and flourish.

“These clubs have helped me figure out a part of me,” she said. “They allowed me to put myself forward as a person, as I lacked a lot of confidence going into junior year.”

Ward has played soccer and basketball for all four years of high school, and recently added tennis to that list, being on the MTHS women’s tennis team for the past two years. She also excelled at basketball. Ward became the JV captain in both her freshman and sophomore years, along with being named athlete of the week over her time on the team.

As for tennis, Ward continued the trend of leading her teams, taking on the role of JV captain for the women’s team this year. Ward’s participation through all the seasons has made an impact on those around her with her outstanding leadership skills, attitude and grit towards whatever she wants to accomplish.

Being on so many teams also gave Ward the opportunity to form close connections with her teammates, and make cherished memories with them along the way. One of the most memorable moments from Ward’s time at Terrace was at a basketball game.

“[We] were playing against Meadowdale. It’s a very niche memory, the classic buzzer-beater at the end of the game that put us overtop them, allowing us to win at home once again.” Ward said. “The pure elation I felt and the amount of buzz that killed the room was something I’ll never forget. It was also the moment I realized, as a program, we were heading somewhere. I’ll never forget that game.”

Still, Ward found it difficult to navigate her senior year after returning from online school, and having to face the internal conflict between academic perfection and finding contentment in herself.

“Senior year was a tough battle for my personality,” Ward said. “As someone who’s done well in most of my classes at Terrace, it was a different kind of challenge. I was in five A.P. classes this year, as well as STEM English, which is a year-long project course. These classes, while not difficult by themselves, became a challenge. I had five A.P. classes, STEM English, my three sports and numerous clubs, and for a while, didn’t socialize outside of school.”

While she took on a vigorous workload, Ward realized the importance of spending time outside of academics. However, discovering that value created a new challenge: Ward had to learn how to balance her academic and athletic responsibilities with time spent for herself and with friends.

“It was a struggle for me, because I’ve always been an ‘all work no play’ type of person. Once I figured out that I enjoy hanging out with people and talking to them and doing things outside of schoolwork, it was a very slippery slope,” Ward said. “Figuring out how to balance school, sports, socializing and familial responsibility was by far the hardest thing for me to do this past senior year.”

Though her final year of high school presented new difficulties, dealing with them allowed Ward to gain a better understanding of herself, and she came out of it better equipped to balance her responsibilities and personal life.

“Senior year taught me a lot about my values and who I am as a person,” Ward said. “I think by the end of it, I’ve rather enjoyed the struggle and challenge it put me through, even though in the moment of it a ll I would’ve rather done literally anything else.”

With a track record of over a dozen A.P. classes, Ward had many memorable and impactful teachers through the years that helped her manage it all. Off the bat, her teachers from freshman year influenced how she learned for the rest of her high school career.

“Freshman year, my favorite year, my favorite teachers were (Vince) DeMiero and (Adam) Welman,” Ward said. “DeMiero had a very relaxing class atmosphere and an amazing student teacher, (Tyler) Hartung. It was an incredible class to not have to worry about and have a good time in.”

On the other side of the same coin, science teacher Welman encouraged Ward by creating an environment that motivated her to work for her academic goals.

“Welman pushed me to be a better student, and [the way] he ran his classes kept it engaging and interesting,” she said.

In the following years, Ward’s teachers continued to enrich and encourage her desire to learn, whether they taught her online or in person.

“[My teachers] all do a fantastic job running their classes, and they’re very cool people to get to know. They have some interesting conversations with students that only make you learn to love them more. Thank you to all of you!” she said. After graduating high school, Ward plans on moving to Oregon to study nursing at the University of Portland. By going into a field dedicated to helping people, Ward hopes to make people’s lives at least a little bit better.

“As cheesy as it sounds, I hope that my job as a nurse will help me make an impact, big or small, on other people’s lives,” Ward said. “I also hope to live my best life. Another cheesy goal and aspiration, but I want to make sure I live a life worth living and don’t miss any opportunity to experience something.”

Ward’s growth in senior year helped her build a mindset that she plans to carry with her into college, and for years to come past that. Because of the challenges she faced, Ward learned that no matter what happens, she can get through it and find a silver lining.

“I can always grow and come out the other side, and it’s a rewarding experience to have,” she said. “I encourage everyone to reflect on their growth, no matter where they are, and they’ll see there’s more positive than negative.”