This Ford has plenty of Bold Moves

Posted Dec. 1, 2006

Maria Villalpando

Senior soccer captain Katie Ford has played for the University of La Verne’s soccer team as a starter for four years. No. 2 for three years, Ford has served as a firefighter in the Siskiyou Unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in her hometown of Yreka.

Yreka (pronounced y-reeka), Calif., is the 40th smallest town in the United States.

It is a town where everybody knows everyone else and traffic lights are nonexistent.

This is where senior soccer captain Katie Ford was born and raised to become the great University of La Verne soccer player and criminology major she is today.

While this may sound like the plot of a Disney sports movie among the likes of “The Rookie” and “Invincible,” the content in this article has not been altered for entertainment purposes.

It all started for Ford in tiny Yreka, growing up with her mother, father and younger sister.

The family was always going on outdoor adventures, including camping and ski trips.

When she turned 18, she began working with the local fire department as a volunteer firefighter.

It is a summer job she has had now for three years.

“There’s not a lot of jobs available at home and a lot of my friends work there so I figured I’d give it a try,” Ford said. “I just love it. If I don’t use my degree I’d want to continue firefighting.”

After her first summer of firefighting, she came to ULV to play on head coach Wendy Zwissler’s women’s soccer team.

“Before school started I slept on the floor in my roommates’ rooms. I didn’t go to orientation,” Ford said. “Soccer’s been a big part of the college experience for me. It gave me a good base of friends.”

Zwissler will always have fond memories of her time spent coaching the 5-foot-11-inch Ford.

“She was the first player I had to look up at to talk to,” Zwissler said with a chuckle.

“She’s one of the nicest people I’ve met in a long time, and I’ve met a lot of people.”

Zwissler was most impressed with how easily Ford would absorb information given to her and then be able to turn around and pass that information on to her teammates.

“She’s like a sponge. I just had to spend a few minutes with her each day to explain and she’d go right to it,” Zwissler said. “She leads by what she does, not what she says. She was very inspirational to her teammates.”

Ford’s teammates can attest to Zwissler’s assessment looking to their captain as an example.

“She was born a leader,” teammate and fellow senior Lauren Britt said. “Her words and work ethic pushed people. Everyone wanted to be better because of Katie.”

Not only is Ford a quick learner and great leader, but she was also able to keep her play steady over all four years spent with the team.

“She’s been my most consistent player,” Zwissler said. “She played every minute last year, she’s played the most minutes of anyone on the team over four years.”

As much fun as she has had on the field, Ford also has had a blast with her teammates off the field.

“This year we were running to catch a train in Chicago and half of us made it and the other half didn’t,” Ford said.

“So those of us that made it got ice cream while we were waiting for the rest of the team,” she added.

The team was in Chicago for early season games against Wheaton and the University of Chicago.

“We roomed together in Chicago,” Britt said. “It was a blast. She’s a goof.”

Ford also remembers a food fight in Texas her freshman year.

“It was just a random food fight at a restaurant,” Ford said. “It was us [the soccer team] versus a table of snobby girls. The best part was when a bystander just poured a pitcher of beer on this girl’s head. We talked about that Texas trip forever.”

As far as her studies are concerned, Ford is on track to graduate next semester with a bachelor’s degree in criminology and is currently contemplating whether or not to continue her education by attending graduate school.

“Juvenile Delinquency with Sharon Davis made me want to change my major to criminology,” Ford said. “It was more towards what I want to do than sociology in general.”

“Barbara Jefferson’s Interdisciplinary Seminar: The Dream Fulfilled was another favorite class of mine,” she said. “She’s the one who has encouraged me to go to grad school.”

Upon the completion of her education, Ford is interested in becoming either a teacher or a social worker, preferably in California.

“Another state might be a good experience, but I really want to continue to live in California,” Ford said.

During the spring semester of her junior year, Ford decided to study abroad in Spain along with senior teammate Amber Lejay.

“I’ve always wanted to study abroad since I heard of the program,” Ford said. “When I had a presentation in one of my classes about it I really wanted to go.”

“I chose Spain since I had taken some Spanish classes, I wanted to learn the language well, and I wanted to be able to see Europe.”

Besides her time spent on the soccer team, firefighting, studying abroad, and taking regular courses, she has also spent her first two years of school pole vaulting for the ULV track team and is considering doing it again this season.

Most recently she has been tutoring a sixth grade girl in general education this semester for her Core 305 class.

“She’s just all-around amazing,” Britt said. “She’s the sweetest person I’ve ever met. She’s just so kindhearted and open. Basically anything good you can say about a person, she has that characteristic.”

Now that Ford is only a semester away from graduating, she wonders where all the time went.

“Now it’s the real world; it’ll be different,” Ford said. “Whoever told you that college was the real world was lying.”

Zwissler feels that Ford is ready for the real world in part because she left Yreka for “the big city.”

“She’s come a long way from Yreka,” Zwissler said. “She’s seen a lot that she wouldn’t have been able to see had she stayed there.”

“I’m going to miss her. She was a pleasure to coach,” Zwissler added.

Everyone who knew Ford will miss her – that’s just the type of person she is.

“My life will never be the same,” Britt said. “I’m going to miss ‘soccer Katie,’ but I’ll always have ‘friend Katie.’”

Kevin Zeni can be reached at

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