When Glenn Whitman started coaching the St. Andrew’s girls’ varsity soccer team in 1997, he was given one directive—make sure Carolyn Ford, then an eighth grader, was on the team.
Ford ’02 had already shown promise as a high level club player. Despite the demands of juggling multiple teams, her family allowed her to play for St. Andrew’s, too. It would be a game changer for St. Andrew’s soccer program.
“In my 20 years coaching middle and high school soccer, Carolyn is arguably the most accomplished soccer player in that time in St. Andrew’s history,” Whitman said. “Carolyn’s timing and participation, in varsity soccer in particular, really came at a critical juncture in the school’s athletic history.”
Ford will be inducted into the St. Andrew’s Athletic Hall of Fame during Homecoming and Reunion next month. The second class of Hall of Fame honorees, which include two athletes, a team, and a teacher/coach, will be recognized October 14 during a ceremony on Holden Court.
In her five years on the varsity team, Ford scored 70 goals and 47 assists overall as a defender and midfielder, a performance that earned her multiple All-County, All-Gazette, All-Met, and All-Conference nods. Playing for St. Andrew’s helped her excel on her club teams, she said, especially because Whitman was her coach.
“He was very tough on me,” Ford said. “I think he would agree, but he was a really, really positive influence on me, not only as a soccer player but as a leader and as a team member.”
Ford was often called upon to turn the tide in St. Andrew’s favor. She remembered a tied match against Wilson—the final of the Francisco Hope Tournament—when she got a critical pep talk.
“Whitman pulled me aside and, in very stern words, told me I was not doing well and I needed to step it up,” Ford said.
Whitman remembers that game, and his words to Carolyn—“You must win the game for us right now.”
From 40 yards away, Ford flighted the ball over the goalie’s head, securing an overtime victory.
“I will never forget that moment in coaching,” Whitman said. “As a teacher or coach, you don’t set the bar high for kids to fail; you set the bar high for kids to stretch and get into. The bar, athletically, couldn’t have been higher that day.”
Ford helped the team bring home four banners: three PVAC titles from 1997 to 1999 and one from the ISL in 2000—the team’s inaugural season in the league. Sarah Taylor Bower ’03 played alongside Ford and called her “our Mia Hamm.”
“She was a professional before she was old enough to be a professional,” Bower said. “I viewed her as a mentor on the field, but also off the field. Personality-wise, she was warm and open, engaging and fun and funny.”
Ford didn’t stop at soccer—she was a forward on the basketball team, earning MVP and All-League selection her senior year, and ran the 4 x 100 m relay in track, for which she still holds a school record. She was named St. Andrew's Female Athlete of the Year in 2002.
Ford went on to play Division I soccer at Duke University, where she started all 86 matches and was considered one of the top defenders in the nation. In 2005, as a senior, she was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year as well as named to Soccer Buzz and NSCAA All-America teams.
Today she works in management consulting with Boston Consulting Group. She said her time at St. Andrew’s was crucial to her success at Duke and beyond.
“I think we were incredibly fortunate to get such a strong education,” Ford said. “The academic rigor, the approach to teaching and learning, and making sure every student is able to master what they try—I think that’s a hugely valuable experience for the people who go there, and I did not take that for granted.”
Whitman said Carolyn’s greatest asset was her drive and commitment to the sport, and was proud to see the skills and mindsets from athletics serve her academically and professionally.
“The Hall of Fame represents not only our best athletes, but also people who have contributed beyond their chosen sport and, in a larger sense, to the spirit and community of the school,” he said. “No question about it, we should hold people like Carolyn up on that pedestal."