Veribest's Ward Leaves Legacy with Howard Payne Signing
VERIBEST, TX -- Veribest senior guard Catlyn Ward officially signed to Howard Payne University in Brownwood on Thursday, officially ending her high school career and leaving her legacy at the resurgent program.
Ward picked up District 11-1A MVP honors this year after averaging 13.4 points per game en route to Veribest's first regional tournament and best season in school history. It was the fourth consecutive year that Ward received postseason accolades.
"It feels great," Ward said of her signing with a smile. "I couldn't have done it without my coaches and my teammates and my parents. I'm really grateful. It's very exciting. I'm glad to be a part of [this season]."
First-year head coach Jim Eubank saw Ward buy in to the new system almost immediately and calls her "the cog in the wheel" that helped Veribest turn their luck around in 2019.
"She's been a starter, she's had district accolades every year," Eubank said of the senior. "I used the words a couple of days ago, she's just an intense competitor. She's really tough on herself, sometimes to the point of being detrimental to herself. She strives to be a perfectionist in everything that she does, but she works, works, works."
The senior would frequently ask coach to open the gym as early as 6:30 a.m. so she could get extra practice in on her own. That drive and time spent honing her craft outside of school is what told Eubank she would turn out to have a great year for the Lady Falcons.
"She was willing to do the extra work," Eubank praised. "She spent time driving back and forth to San Antonio last year playing with a good travel squad. She played against really good people. I think that made her understand how to trust teammates. Trust simply means you believe that your teammates are there to help and you can depend on them."
Eubank noted that Ward felt she had to do more in the past. Being able to trust her teammates is what led Veribest to their first district championship in 17 years and their first appearance at regionals.
"She did an awesome, awesome job learning to share the ball, when in the past she felt she had to do everything. That was that trust issue," Eubank added. "It made our team much, much better."
But Eubank, a 40-year coaching veteran, knew he'd have to find a way to get the most out of Ward. So, he pushed her like she'd never been pushed before. Ward says that took her game to a higher level.
"It was big. I felt like without that, I wouldn't have pushed myself as hard as I did ... I wouldn't be where I am today without that," Ward said.
Howard Payne finished 11-15 overall and 8-8 in American Southwest Conference play.