Tre Ford might have gained the Hec Crighton, Canada’s highest particular person honour in College soccer, however the battle is simply starting.
Ford will look to show himself on the skilled stage—a tricky feat for any quarterback, however as an individual of color, there are extra hoops to leap by than a lot of his counterparts.
As a black quarterback, Ford has all the time needed to struggle for what’s rightfully his. Too many instances, Black quarterbacks are sometimes given the tag ‘athlete’ after they can do multiple factor properly. Black quarterbacks who can each run and throw the soccer usually get pigeonholed right into a seemingly innocuous label of ‘athlete’.
Whereas on its floor, being referred to as an ‘athlete’ looks like an excellent factor, however much like broader society, for too a few years, this has been an excuse to perpetuate a double customary.
“Clearly I’m black and I’m additionally very quick, so individuals (label) me as an athlete and assume, ‘he can flip over and play one other place,” mentioned Ford. “I actually imagine I’m a quarterback and I really feel like if any group offers me a shot, they’ll see that I’m a quarterback and never only a receiver and an athlete.”
Ford confirmed why he’s not simply an athlete this previous season as Waterloo’s pivot. The fifth-year student-athlete was awarded the MVP of U SPORTS soccer in 2021 after averaging 252 yards per recreation.
Ford grew to become the primary Warrior to win the award in program historical past and an important a part of his recreation is his skill to scramble and decide up large yardage on the bottom. As a dual-threat, Ford is simply as more likely to throw a fifty-yard bomb proper on the numbers or torch opposing defences along with his legs.
In 2021, the recreation and leisure main additionally ranked third within the nation in regular-season speeding yards with 629, averaging over 100 yards per recreation as a quarterback.
Ford’s accomplishments have made him a trailblazer, making historical past for the College of Waterloo, however extra importantly, Ford grew to become the primary black quarterback to be awarded the Hec Crighton Trophy.
“I might positively prefer to see some extra black quarterbacks on the college stage and get an opportunity in U SPORTS,” mentioned Ford. “There have been instances after I was taking part in again in highschool the place even when I used to be outperforming a quarterback, he was nonetheless getting appears to be like to be recruited as a quarterback and so they mentioned ‘Tre can positively play receiver on the subsequent stage’, or ‘he can play working again’.
Black quarterbacks are likely to take care of heightened criticism on the quarterback place. Typically referred to as into query is whether or not or not they’ll make the massive throws, or in the event that they’ll simply depend on their athleticism and scramble.
One of many causes Ford selected Waterloo was as a result of he was supported as a quarterback, not typecasted into being a receiver due to his pace, as was the case with a few of the higher-profile packages.
“Some faculties talked to me about switching positions, however I used to be lucky sufficient that Bert gave me a possibility,” mentioned Ford.
Fortunately for Ford, he had a supportive forged of coaches that gave him the chance to reach a management place.
“Not as soon as did we confer with Tre as an athlete,” mentioned Waterloo head coach Chris Bertoia. “We knew he was a quarterback. I instructed him he could be a quarterback for us, and that he and Tyrell (his brother) had been going to show our program round.”
Whereas Ford’s on-field accomplishments have proven a glimpse of societal development, there’s extra work to be finished each on and off the sector.
Corey Grant, the offensive coordinator, and newly-appointed Fairness, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Lead on the College of McMaster Athletic Division and, believes that Ford’s nod for the Hec Crighton is each an indication of progress and indicative of an absence of inclusivity inside the sport.
“Tre Ford is an indication of what we could be in that place for a black quarterback,” mentioned Grant. That’s giving children a possibility and never simply pigeonholing them… Given the appropriate alternative and help, they’ll attempt in any respect positions and particularly the quarterback place and he is a superb consultant of what the long run can maintain for black and racialized quarterbacks.”
Somebody all the time needs to be the primary. However on the similar time, questions ought to be raised as to why it took this lengthy.
“This additionally reveals that there’s a lack of that inclusion on the college stage. Hopefully, this could begin to change the minds of coaches as they’re recruiting quarterbacks. I’m glad that when Tre was recruited he mentioned: ‘No, I don’t need to play one other place, I’m a quarterback.’ He’s now setting the desk for everyone else.”
Though Ford has proven what could be finished with the appropriate help, Grant’s distinctive place as each an authority determine on the sector and a liaison of help and inclusivity inside the group offers him a voice to talk for individuals who beforehand go unheard.
“We’d like somebody to talk up and help our racialized student-athletes but in addition to have that voice that folks will hearken to,” mentioned Grant, the two-time Gray Cup champion. “They want somebody to go to, somebody that’s of their nook, somebody that appears like them, and somebody who has been what they’ve been by.”
Ford was given a possibility and he made essentially the most of it.
However the job doesn’t finish right here.
Bringing in numerous views is extra necessary now than ever based on Grant.
“If we all the time have the identical voices and views in our teaching rooms, we’re going to remain stagnant. With extra girls and extra range in these locker rooms, we’ll assist these younger males perceive the best way to relate to a various pool of people and develop into higher leaders of tomorrow,”.
Grant will be part of the Vanier Cup broadcast at halftime to additional dialogue of inclusivity with U SPORTS soccer.
The Scotiabank Vanier Cup, introduced by Levio between the Saskatchewan Huskies and Western Mustangs is televised reside on CBC TV. The printed can also be accessible on-line by CBCSports.ca and CBC Gem, and the CBC Sports activities App. The French broadcast shall be accessible on TVASports.