Connor Ford’s path to Bowling Green is a unique one. He grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, then went to Faribault, Minnesota to attend Shattuck St. Mary’s for his last two years of high school.
His time at Shattuck St. Mary’s started his development both as a hockey player and as a person.
“When I went to Shattuck my junior year of high school, I played two years there on the prep team for Coach Tom Ward, who shaped me as a hockey player and a man. He really instilled a lot of leadership values in me and I really grew up in my time there,” Ford said.
After his time at Shattuck St. Mary’s was over, Ford faced the decision of where to continue his career. BGSU stood out as the best fit for him.
“A lot of it was opportunity. I wasn't a highly sought out prospect by any means. This place was the way I wanted to play. It was hard-nose and simple, knowing this place doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that a top Big Ten or NCHC school might have, and doesn't have all the money in the world. That’s what I like, that blue collar mentality. Going to my roots at Pittsburgh, that’s what that town is all about. They gave me the opportunity to come play as a freshman. I came and visited, I loved campus, loved the coaches and I’m really glad I made the decision to come here,” Ford said.
Just like every college student, Ford has grown as a person during his time at Bowling Green.
“I have learned a lot about myself, who I am, who I want to be and I’ve been very graceful that this place has given me the opportunity to do that,” Ford said.
Ford has also grown his game while at Bowling Green. His improvement has been steady throughout the years.
“A lot of it has been confidence. I come in as a 19-year-old freshman and it’s hard to go up against some of these seniors who are 24-year-old men. It’s intimidating. You go out there and just put your nose down and go to work. As you play more games, more practices, more years go by, the game kinda slows down and I can really let my skill set out of the shell a bit and take risks. I see the game better. Now as a senior, I can let it rip with everything I got,” Ford said.
BGSU Hockey Head Coach Ty Eigner has been with the program for Ford’s whole Bowling Green career. Eigner has noticed the improvements Ford has made during his time here.
“He’s added certain things to his game, whether it be how he approaches every night on the powerplay, how he approaches the penalty kill, he’s a kid that we can play in any situation. Connor is up to that challenge. I think his improvement has been just real consistent and real incremental. It’s not like the light went off all of a sudden one day and he was a completely different player. It’s because of how he is, how he is wired and what his daily approach is. He just puts in work,” Eigner said.
This upcoming season is bittersweet for Ford. While he has a chance to play a season this year, it will most likely be his final season at Bowling Green.
“If I get everything I want out of this year, I expect to be moving on. I am sad, this place has been great to me. Hopefully, I can give back to this place in the future,” Ford said.
The offseason was challenging in dealing with COVID. There was no knowledge of when hockey would be played next. Ford took full advantage of the offseason as best as he could.
“I took that time to get into the best shape of my life and get 100% healthy. Obviously, it’s been a difficult time mentally, but the one thing I could control was physically being ready to go come this fall, whenever we did get to play, which is very soon now,” Ford said.
The season is set to start on Friday, Nov. 13th, and while Ford had been dealing with an injury during the offseason, Eigner has noticed how well Ford has been able to bounce back from that injury.
“He had a labrum tear in his hip, he had surgery when they opened up doctor offices for procedures last spring. He’s worked incredibly hard to get himself to the point where if he’s not 100% ready to play today, he’s really close. He’s put in the time rehabbing and that’s not a surprise to anybody on our team. That’s just who he is,” Eigner said.
Last season, Ford was an assistant captain. This year, the team voted to make him captain, displaying their admiration for him as a leader.
“It’s a great honor and something I’m super proud of. It’s really hard to put into words, it’s something to have that kind of respect from my teammates. It really means a lot to me,” Ford said.
Ford understands the challenges that face him with being a leader of this team. He knows what is expected of him.
“A lot of it is leading by example and coming to play everyday. That is something I have to keep no matter what, no matter how well the season is going for me individually or how poorly. These guys come first, the logo comes first. I just have to bring it everyday,” Ford said