By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Cooperstown and SUNY Oneonta track champion Lucy Ford took a step up the coaching ladder this school year.
Ford, a former state champion in high school in the high jump and a former SUNYAC champion in the high jump and heptathlon, accepted a coaching position at Brandeis University, a Division III school in Waltham, Massachusetts in November.
Although the job began in the fall, the season didn’t, as the University Athletic Association canceled winter sports for 2020-2021, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the spring season began last month and Ford told Iron String Press that she is happy with her new position.
“It is going pretty well,” she said. “I am having fun.”
Ford graduated from Cooperstown Central School in 2014 and SUNY Oneonta, where she transferred after beginning college at SUNY Brockport, in 2018. She was an assistant track coach at SUNY Delhi from 2018 to 2020, but the college eliminated most paid sports assistant positions during the pandemic.
Ford began taking post-graduate courses virtually at SUNY Cortland in sports management and got a volunteer position at SUNY Albany. Then she saw a notice for the paid Brandeis job.
Although Ford had gotten credit from her former high school coach, Connie Herzig, for being a great coach with the schools younger athletes, including Ford’s younger sister, Julie, coaching wasn’t something she planned to pursue.
“My senior year in college, I wasn’t even thinking about coaching,” she said. “I had actually applied for and accepted a marketing job in Syracuse.”
Instead, Delhi coach Rob Munro recruited her into coaching. Ford said she did not know she was going to be a good coach, but her own coaches saw something in her that they thought she could relate to elite athletes like her.
“I thought, ‘I don’t mind helping out,’” she said, “but then I did it and I enjoyed it.”
Ford is coaching both the men’s and women’s teams, specializing in jumpers and sprinters, which were her specialties as an athlete, too.
Although Brandeis began its spring outdoor track season this month, Ford will celebrate another milestone when she gets her master’s degree this week.
“It has been three years in the making,” she said.
Long-term, Ford said she sees herself moving into sports administration, but while she is young, she is enjoying the grind of college coaching.
“It is a lot of work,” she said. “It is a lot of travel, a lot recruiting and probably a lot of hours. I think is fun right now, but I think to myself, ‘is this what I am going to want for my life when I settle down someday?’ So, that is probably where the sports management comes into things.”
At Cooperstown, Ford placed three years in a row in the state Division II (small schools) track meet in the high jump, including winning state title in 2013.
After a year at Brockport, she transferred to Oneonta and excelled, winning the SUNYAC high jump title in 2016 and the SUNYAC heptathlon title in 2017. She holds school records in both event.
She set the team’s indoor record in the heptathlon in 2017 with 2,972 points in a meet in Ithaca. A few months later, in Cortland, she set the school’s outdoor high jump record by clearing 5-feet, 6.5 inches. It was 1.5 inches better than her state title jump in 2013, showing some of her growth as an athlete in college.
The second of four kids, Ford’s family helped power Cooperstown’s athletic success for nearly a decade. Older brother Jeremiah was on the boys basketball team that made the Class C state championship game in 2012 and he competed in track and basketball at SUNY Oneonta. Ford was on the 2013 girls basketball team that won a section title. Her younger sister Julie one-upped both older siblings by being a key reserve on the girls basketball team that won a Class C state title in 2015; she also placed fifth in the state in the high jump in 2017. Their youngest sibling, Abby, was an important part of two girls basketball sections titles, too, in 2019 and 2020.
Although they are a close-knit family, the siblings are scattered around the country now: Jeremiah is working in finance in Arizona; Julie is playing college basketball at King University in Bristol, Tennessee; Abby is in her freshman year at SUNY Buffalo, majoring in art.
“It is different,” Ford said. “We are all over the place. They are all doing well.”