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Two Thresher tennis legends tapped for interim coaching roles

September 24th, 2018

Marty Ward

Marty Ward and Angela (Brodhagen) Bontrager have agreed to fill in as interim men’s and women’s tennis coaches, respectively, through the rest of the fall season.

This follows the resignation of Head Tennis Coach Richard Southern on Sept 17, to take a collegiate coaching position in Phoenix.

Said Tony Hoops, Bethel athletic director, “When I reached out to both Marty and Ang, I didn’t know what their response would be.

“I can’t thank [them] enough for their willingness to help during a difficult situation of transition.

“Their commitment to this program is displayed not only in words but also in action. They were successful here because they invested so much to be great. This investment continues to this day.”

Ward led the Thresher netters from 1985-99, racking up an impressive dual-match record of 306-124, and an outstanding KCAC record of 185-14.

He established one of the greatest dynasties in Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference history, across all sports, with 21 combined KCAC championships. His teams swept the entire decade of the 1990s in conference championships on the men’s side, plus 11 NAIA national championship appearances.

“Bethel represents an important part of my career, and is my wife Carol’s alma mater,” Ward said.

“It worked out great to be able to help take over this interim role, and I am grateful for this opportunity to help. I’ve been impressed with the players’ work ethic and enthusiasm to represent Bethel.”

Ward has a history of getting the most out of his players – 31 earned 1st Team All-KCAC honors, and eight different athletes were honored as KCAC Most Valuable Player.

Bontrager was arguably one of the greatest to play for Bethel women’s tennis, and earned three of those MVP awards with Ward as coach.

She put together a career singles record of 78-21, and a doubles record of 74-25 during her four years at Bethel, helping the team to four straight KCAC championships and three appearances at nationals.

Bontrager took Bethel’s head tennis coach position from 2002-04, leading the women’s team to two KCAC championships.

 “I enjoyed coaching Angela and seeing her find success through her career, and am excited she is part of this coaching role as well,” said Ward.

Both Bontrager and Ward were out at this past weekend's ITA Regional in Maize, getting back into the swing of things after being away from coaching for a few years.

“Being able to follow my son’s [Bethel tennis standout Jared Ward] own tennis career kept me involved in the game, but it had been a while since I coached a team,” Ward said.

“Things change over the years, but the steps needed to find success do not. Doing it the right way, a strong work ethic, committing yourself to get better – these need to be as constant as the sun coming up each morning.”

“Loyalty is what makes Bethel College such a special place,” Hoops added.

“This is just another example of the culture we are building here within Bethel Athletics, of success in the future while acknowledging legends from the past that created high standards for us to reach for.”

Bethel College is the only Kansas private college listed in the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, both for 2018-19. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

In sports, Bethel competes within the 13-school KCAC, and the NAIA. For more information, see

Bethel College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, gender identity, gender expression, medical or genetic information, ethnic or national origins, citizenship status, veteran or military status or disability. E-mail questions to Joshua Booth

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.