Lewis Ward used to be known as a security guard at TD Place. Now he’s known for breaking the Canadian Football League (CFL) record for most consecutive field goal kicks in a season.
“The transition, is obviously very different,” Ward said. “I’m much more known now with the fans, whereas before no one knew who I was and I was just an employee kind of thing.”
“But being able to work there and to experience the fans and the atmosphere each game day has helped me understand and manage the atmosphere that can happen on a game day,” he added.
Now look how far he’s come. Ward is a rookie kicker on the Ottawa Redblacks of the CFL. Before making it to the CFL, Ward played for the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees. As for how he got started playing football, Ward credited the school playground.
“I think I was in grade eight when I first moved to Canada, you know, a couple friends, younger guys were just throwing the football around and that’s how I kind of started,” Ward said.
“And then, the next year, I went to high school and in grade nine was when I first started really playing football,” he added.
Ward grew up in England, before he made his way over to Canada at the age of thirteen for the start of eighth grade.
Ward said his experience playing soccer helped him become a kicker for the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees.
As part of the Gee-Gees, Ward converted 89 field goals for the most in program and conference history, as well as being the leading scorer in Gee-Gees history with 412 points.
“I’m pretty happy, you know to be able to have had such an impact on my school that I’ve had, and to be able to do those things,” Ward said. “I feel like it’s quite an accomplishment from me to be able to do that for the school, it’s great for our football program to have things like that.”
“But yeah, that’s not what I was expecting in university, but it’s something that just happened and I’m pretty thankful that I was able to do that,” he added.
Ward went undrafted in the 2017 CFL Draft, which prompted him to return to the Gee-Gees for a fifth year. He then signed with the Redblacks last January and became their starting kicker for the 2018-2019 season, when he kicked 4-for-4 on field goals in the open tryouts.
“When I wasn’t drafted, I was a little disappointed, I was a little upset,” Ward said. “I didn’t know what I was going to be doing, and that kind of stuff, but going back to school after that summer, doing my last year at the university, I think its helped me a lot, so I’m thankful for the opportunity that I have now.”
Ward’s record breaking didn’t just stop at the U Sports level. As part of the Redblacks, Ward tied an Ottawa Football Club record for seven field goals in one game, broke the CFL record for the most consecutive field goal kicks, and the pro football record for most consecutive field goal kicks. Ward finished the 2018-2019 regular season kicking 51 out of 52 field goals.
“I haven’t really thought about it too much, you know, it’s not something I think of a whole lot,” Ward said. “I think after the season, when it’s all said and done, I think I’ll be able to enjoy my accomplishments so far, but right now I’m just focusing on doing my part to help us win football games.”
“And the success that’s coming along with that is just me doing what I need to be doing to help us win,” he added.
This past year, Ward’s former team, the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, won the Panda Game—the annual football game played between the Gee-Gees and the Carleton Ravens—after a four-year winning drought.
Ward said he was happy for his alma mater’s success, considering players must balance the responsibilities of being a student-athlete.
“Oh, it’s great for them. It’s great for the program, I know they put in a lot of time and a lot of work, you know, I don’t think people really understand the work that goes into university football, along with the schoolwork just like everybody else,” Ward said.
“Some people have part time jobs and they have meetings and practice on top of everything, which is very time consuming, so I’m very proud of those guys,” Ward said. “Some of the guys I played with last year, and a few years before, very happy for the program and it’s a big deal to win that game.”
As for his future, Ward hopes that he can have a long and successful career in the CFL and improve on his recent success.
“I’m going to keep working at it, try and be the best I can every day, every time I come in to practice and to games,” Ward said. “I have to be the best I can be and I just hope that I have as long of a career as I can and I hope the success I’ve had this year continues.”