Maddie Ford has been defined by her roles as a soccer player, goalkeeper and leader. Now, Ford enters her fourth and final year on the Loyola women’s soccer team in a new position: captain.
Ford has started for the Ramblers for three seasons, but as one of five seniors on the roster, she is responsible for guiding the team from the back.
“I think her being in a different role, being a senior captain now, puts kind of more weight on her shoulders and responsibilities,” head coach Barry Bimbi said. “She’s really kind of stepped up … helping the young girls with the transition from high school to the college game. That’s a huge chore for any upperclassman.”
Ford said she has a deep compassion for her teammates and wants to make sure she’s a teammate and their captain, but also their friend. While the transition from high school to college is hard for any student, Ford wants to help her teammates make that transition easier by sharing her experiences.
“It was really overwhelming for me my freshman year,” Ford said. “I just want to make sure they know they have someone to talk to because it would’ve been nice if I had known that my freshman year.”
There are also many people who influence Ford as a leader, including her dad and coaches.
“At practice I don’t like telling people what to do. I like working with them and showing them what to do,” Ford said.
Through grade school and high school, Ford filled leadership roles. She pushed to be a better leader after experiencing what bad leadership was. She said she knows what makes an unsuccessful leader and strives to avoid those mistakes.
“I think something that has inspired me would be the leadership I’ve seen on the team when things aren’t that great,” Ford said. “There’s some people who crumble under bad situations and there’s the good leaders, that I’ve seen, that have brought everyone together and refocused us and rebuilt our program from the ground up.”
Ford also said she likes to be funny and lighten the mood with comedic relief to bring an overall positivity among the team.
“I like to hope I have influenced my teammates,” Ford said. “Hopefully all in a positive way.”
One person she influenced greatly is sophomore goalkeeper, Kate Moran.
“Coming in as a [first-year] she was just super supportive and welcoming, especially [as] a new goalkeeper coming in to the group. She was super nice and I felt welcome right away,” Moran said. “This year, she’s captain.She’s done a bunch of stuff already , just kind of encouraging everybody, like the first day we came in she had all these signs on our lockers getting us ready for fitness tests.”
Moran also said Ford leads the team in a selfless way. Her aim isn’t to get herself the best stats or awards — which she has done, earning an honorable mention All-MVC award in 2015 — but to help her teammates play as best they can.
“She’s never selfish. She wants us all to be good. She’s always encouraging us to be the best we can be,” Moran said.
While Ford has been playing soccer since childhood, she said she has a special bond with the Loyola soccer program.
“It’s everything,” Ford said. “I’ve come such a long way from where I was. It’s shown me everything that I believe in leadership now, it’s showed me what’s important in a leader and what’s not as important, and it’s shown me the tools of how to be a successful communicator, leader, collaborator — so it’s done everything for me.”
Ford and the Ramblers are scheduled to play against Chicago State University Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. at Hoyne Field.