Senior Jill Ford scored 48 goals for a second All-CPOWNY selection. Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes.
It is hard to imagine that a lacrosse player of Jill Ford’s caliber quit playing the sport once upon a time.
Ford just finished her senior season at Hamburg High School this past year, but she had a difficult decision as to which sport she wanted to play in the spring back when she was a middle school student. So in the sixth grade, she traded in her stick for a bat.
“I liked the softball coach and I wanted to play softball,” Ford said about her choice to switch sports. “But then I quit to play lacrosse in seventh grade. I just tried it and I like it.”
Deciding to get back into the lacrosse was a good move for Ford, as the midfielder would ultimately be flowered with plenty of accolades throughout her high school career, which included becoming a repeat selection on the All-CPOWNY first team last month.
Ford was one of eight locals honored at the fifth annual All-CPOWNY Lacrosse Banquet, presented by the Buffalo Bandits June 17 at Ilio DiPaolo’s. She was joined by her teammate, Claire Herrmann, fellow Bulldogs Lucas Shafer and Evan Hollfelder, Hannah Lease and Taylor Izzo of Frontier, Lake Shore standout Alie Jimerson and Eden’s Molly Neureuter.
“I was hoping to get invited,” said Ford, whose 48 goals were a team high for the Lady Bulldogs. “I made it last year, so I was hoping to make it again.”
Not only did Ford make a second appearance on the All-CPOWNY first team, she was also selected as an All-American and All-WNY first teamer in back-to-back seasons, too, for her performances in her junior and senior seasons at Hamburg.
These accomplishments are coming from a young woman who was undecided as to what sport she should play going into her seventh grade year.
“In eighth grade I was pulled up to varsity, but I was just practicing with them,” said Ford, who is also a standout on Hamburg’s field hockey and basketball teams, about making the switch back to lacrosse in middle school.
“Then freshman year I was officially pulled up to varsity and I was like , ‘All right, well…I’m doing this now.’”
Ford’s first season on varsity in 2011 was also the first year for head coach Katy Ryan. Along with Ford’s classmate, Haley Fiore, the trio would go on to make Hamburg girls lacrosse the standard in Class B.
They led the Lady Bulldogs to four consecutive sectional championship games together, falling in the Section VI Class B title game in 2011 before winning in each of their next three tries.
The latest Class B crown may be the most impressive, according to Ford. The program has graduated a handful of Division I-level players during its title runs, making another one this year seem like a tougher task than in prior years.
“I think last year and the year before were our best years and then those players started to go away,” said Ford, who led Hamburg with five goals in the Section VI Class B championship game over Williamsville North on May 28.
“I was nervous at the beginning of this year about how it was going to go, but once we started clicking and everyone began doing really well, I became very excited about the season.”
One of the players that graduated from Hamburg after a decorated high school career is Taylor Wolf. Wolf just finished her freshman season playing lacrosse at Niagara University, where Ford will attend and continue her lacrosse career in the fall.
“Just being back with her is very exciting for me, but she just keeps saying how I need to show what I have and I’ll get in, and hopefully I’ll be able to play,” said Ford, who will join Niagara University’s lacrosse team with fellow Lady Bulldog Lexi Higgins.
Ford will room with Wolf this fall at Niagara as the two will reunite on the lacrosse field as Purple Eagles. The pair formed a strong tandem during its years at the high school level, and Ford is more ready than ever to take the next step and see how well she can compete as a D-1 athlete.
“I’m sad because I’m going to miss everything we’ve done the past few years,” Ford said. “If I could stay with coach Ryan…I’d love to stay with coach, but I’m excited to move on to bigger and better things.”