After six seasons as head coach of the cross country teams at John Carroll University and five seasons as head coach of the track and field teams, Dara Ford had decided to resign from both positions as she will be moving on to Otterbein University where she will be holding identical head coaching positions.
Ford put together one of the most successful runs of any coach in JCU history. Be it producing All-American runners, capturing Ohio Athletic Conference titles or being named the OAC Coaching Staff of the Year on three separate occasions, Ford has certainly left her mark on the Blue and Gold’s cross country and track programs.
But even more than the results, Ford connected with her athletes in ways many coaches dream of.
“She was looked up to by her athletes here and inspired and motivated the track team to get pumped up about one another’s performances, especially at the OAC meet,” said graduate student Will Rial. “What separated Coach Ford from the rest of the coaches in the conference was that she brought us together as a team, made us care about one another and leave it all out on the track for one another.”
Ford also led JCU’s men’s and women’s cross country squads to be ranked top five regionally in the past year, while the women’s team was ranked nationally for the first time in school history.
Along with the athletic side of things, Ford pushed her students to perform academically as well. This culminated in the Blue Streaks’ women’s program being named a 2013 Division III All-Academic Track & Field team by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Association.
“Dara was one of the best coaches that I ever had,” said freshman Alyssa Biedron. “She really connects with the athlete, even on a personal level. I just wish that I could have had more time with her as my coach, it is going to be hard to not have her around next year.”