The Colorado Mammoth today announced that the organization has named NLL Finals MVP and veteran goaltender Dillon Ward as the team’s Lacrosse Development Manager.
“Dillon has been an ambassador to the Colorado lacrosse community for nearly a decade already, so bringing him on board to help us to connect with athletes, schools and programs throughout Colorado was an easy decision,” Kroenke Sports & Entertainment VP, Chief Marketing Officer Declan Bolger shared. “He’s a proven leader at the highest levels of competition who brings a plethora of experiences interacting with lacrosse athletes at all levels of play and we’re happy to have him in this new role.”
Responsible for connecting with youth, recreational and amateur levels of athletes, coaches and parents throughout the Mammoth’s lacrosse-forward home in Colorado, Ward’s established relationships and contacts within the lacrosse community will help further intertwine the 2022 NLL Championship squad with its dedicated supporters and future NLL players alike.
While Denver may feel like home now, Ward’s lacrosse career and involvement predates Colorado by a decade or two, as the goaltender got his start in the lacrosse hotbed known as Orangeville, Ontario, home to the Northmen.
A proven talent in the stick sporting world, Ward’s first exposure to lacrosse actually came via the hockey community, as his first hockey coach also contributed toward lacrosse efforts in the area, who quickly consulted with the youngster’s parents and got him signed up. Ward agreed that the same group who played hockey generally played lacrosse in Ontario, but it wasn’t the sport that made a difference, it was the community.
“Growing up, a lot of my coaches had been through the Orangeville program, so you saw a lot of kids who played youth lacrosse, Jr. lacrosse, went on the to the pros and then stayed around in the community to start coaching,” Ward shared. “Whether it was to coach their kids or just to give back on the coaching level, we saw a lot of folks who went through the program and continue to give back, so that’s where the strong roots came from.”
Since being drafted by the Mammoth third overall in the 2013 NLL Entry Draft, Ward has called Denver his home.
As he recalled his transition in becoming a Denverite, one early summer moment stuck out, and for good reason:
“2014 was obviously pretty special, because first off, we won a World Championship (Team Canada), but also, it was here in Denver and that was the start of me living here and being a part of the Colorado lacrosse community. To be able to win a World Championship in, essentially, my new backyard, was very special.”
Fresh off winning gold with Team Canada in 2014, the All-Pro netminder quickly worked his way into Denver’s ever-growing lacrosse scene and hasn’t looked back.
Having coached at camps, clinics, school visits and beyond for the first few years as a pro, Ward branched out into the high school circuit in 2016 when he accepted an invite to coach alongside former Mammoth captain John Gallant at Rock Canyon High School. Ward spent three years at Rock Canyon before eventually taking the coaching gig at Denver East High School in 2019. The goaltender enjoyed three years at East, where he helped bring the program back to the upper tier of Colorado high school lacrosse.
“It’s great to see the continued growth and popularity of the sport, even since I’ve been here in Denver,” Ward said. “We’ve seen a lot of growth at the high school level, even the amount of high schools who have programs now or are continuing to add them is great. You see lacrosse nets all over the place here, whether you’re in Denver, or anywhere outside of the city, it’s pretty hard to drive by a field and not see lacrosse being played somewhere.”
Most recently, Ward has been coaching the Denver Pride, a club within LXTC, with his fiancé Ali Houlis, a former university player and fellow lacrosse advocate, who’s also helped fuel the Colorado lacrosse community since 2014. While Houlis grew up by the shore in New Jersey, her home is on the field here in Denver.
“We’ve been working with them for four or five years and it’s been a lot of fun to learn the girls’ game with this 2025 team,” Ward shared. “I wasn’t very familiar with it before, so being able to coach with my fiancé and learn that game, those rules and the nuances with it, has been a great time.”
A regular supporter of Mammoth-based lacrosse partnerships with Denver City Lax, the Arapahoe Youth League and beyond as a player, Ward is prepared to help the Mammoth organization take the next step in growing the game by leading school clinics, lacrosse camps and more as the team’s lacrosse development manager.
“Being able to coach kids and see their enjoyment of the sport, especially in the box game down here, which is relatively new to the Colorado lacrosse community. Seeing these kids pick up on it and seeing when it all clicks, that reaction they get is awesome and I really do enjoy giving back to the sport that’s given me so much and helping this next wave of kids get to the next level.”
Noting several coaches, parents and lacrosse figures who helped him to where he is today, the goaltender understands the importance of paying it forward to the next generation.
While Bob McMahon, Chris Sanderson, John Gallant, Matt Brown and Jamie Shewchuk were first to mind in crediting those who helped him evolve his own game, all spanning from lacrosse greatness in their own respective as players, coaches and mentors, the community doesn’t start or stop behind the bench for Ward.
While #TradeWard might be the first hashtag that comes to mind for the common Twitter user when discussing the All-Pro talent (again, not happening), Ward plays for the #GoodTimes, a tradition and relationship started by WLA superfan, Jim Else.
“He’s a massive fan of lacrosse, based in Victoria, so Chris Wardle would know him well, and he’s just a huge advocate who loves to cheer for his teams and specific players. He’s been a huge supporter of mine, so every time we win a game, he’ll throw out a #GoodTimes and I’ll respond with the same, give him a like – he’s just someone who wants to see the sport grow.”
As the sport of lacrosse consistently garners the attention and respect of youth, amateur and professional players, coaches and fans alike, the Colorado Mammoth and Denver community continue to represent the biggest lacrosse presence west of the Mississippi and remain diligent in getting sticks in the hands of athletes throughout the state.
“I’m always continuing to learn about the game, whether it’s playing or coaching, and I think that’s the best way to be a good coach and a good leader is always being open, always being someone who’s willing to learn and not thinking that you know everything. That’s helped me get to the level that I’m at.”
Some pointers for athletes looking to take their game to the next level?
“Watch as much as you can, play as much as you and just have fun with it.”
Ward will lead that charge in net heading into the NLL’s 2022-23 season while defending the team’s 2022 Championship honors for another season at the Loud House.