Girls' All-Area Player of the Year: WCDS' Catherine Ford
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on March 20, 2011 1:51 AM
Catherine Ford's journey toward leadership has been filled with admitted reluctance, learning experiences and the dividends of hard work.
The heralded Wayne Country Day guard has developed from a hesitant facilitator into an aggressive scorer since her first varsity season as an eighth grader. She's earned N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1-A All-State recognition as a freshman, sophomore and junior.
And Ford is the 2010-11 News-Argus All-Area Girls' Basketball Player of the Year.
Before reaching high school, Ford wrestled with embracing the role of leadership and looking for her own shot. Under the direction of current Wayne Country Day head coach Eric Perry, Ford honed both her leadership and scoring abilities in a local recreation league.
"When I first started coaching Catherine she did not like to shoot the ball a lot," said Perry. "I knew I had to get her prepared for JV at the time. I told her, 'You're going to have to learn to take over games.' I had a thing with her where at a certain point in every game, I would give her a signal for her to take over.
"I had to get her to get that mentality."
During Ford's freshman season in 2009, the Chargers won the NCISAA 1-A state championship. Seniors Brooke Norris, Bridgette Briggs and Shelle Anderson provided the leadership and offensive prowess necessary to capture the program's first-ever state title.
Wayne Country Day lost in the state finals a year ago, and a motivated Ford spent the offseason diligently improving her game. Countless hours in the gym fine-tuning her dribbling skills added an extra dimension to her skill set.
Already a reliable jump shooter, Ford developed the ability to consistently beat defenders off the dribble. Growing up with older brothers -- and the poundings involved with physical basketball games in the back yard -- gave Ford the courage she needed to fearlessly attack the rim.
"I really worked on reading the defender and seeing when they move their feet," said Ford. "When they move their hips I learned to see open areas to penetrate. The aggressiveness I have to attack the basket definitely comes from playing in the back yard with my brothers. They would knock me down, but that just gave me the aggressive attitude I have."
Ford transitioned from the point guard to the shooting guard spot this season. The junior averaged 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists a game while serving as an extension of the coaching staff on the court.
Wayne Country Day reached the finals of the Coastal Plains Independent 1-A Conference tournament, lost in the NCISAA semifinals and finished the season 15-8.
"At the beginning of the year Coach Perry sat me down and he told me that as the only captain I really needed to lead the team in a positive way," said Ford. "I knew we had some young players and that it would take a couple of games for them to grow. I knew that I would not only have to learn to take control of the game, but also to look for the other players.
"I try to model myself as a leader after Coach Perry and I just try to be a coach on the court."
With the Chargers short on depth and forward Hannah Pearson lost to a season-ending injury, Ford rarely came off the floor and was often called upon to defend taller players in the post.
In the CPIC tournament semifinals against rival Greenfield, senior forward Kim Martell was in foul trouble early in the third quarter. Perry entrusted Ford to defend the Knights' all-state center Ashley Hughes. Hughes fouled out early in the fourth quarter, while Ford finished with 34 points and 12 rebounds in a 59-52 win.
"When Kim got in foul trouble, I just knew in that situation that I had to take over," said Ford. "Coach Perry, at that point in the game, he gave me the green light. I knew it was on my shoulders to take over.
"Whatever I needed to do to get to the basket, I needed to make it happen."
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