Riding basketball to an education Bryn Mawr's Ford shoots for classroom scores first

January 18, 1993|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,Contributing Writer

It's 5:30 a.m., and Kisha Ford's daily trek is beginning.

After getting ready for school, she waits on the corner for the arrival of the first of three buses that will take her from the streets of southwest Baltimore to the Homeland campus of Bryn Mawr, where she is a senior.

It takes nearly two hours for her to get to school.

Basketball practice follows a full day of classes, and then Ford makes her way home on the buses, usually standing because all the seats are taken.

Ford is recognized by some as the Metro profile

area's best girls basketball player. But she is not attending Bryn Mawr to hone her jump shot.

She believes the inconvenience of getting up early and standing in crowded buses is worth it because of the education she can get at Bryn Mawr, where the classes are small and students receive individual attention.

Ford transferred from Western to Bryn Mawr after her sophomore year. She was a two-time All-Metro selection at Western and a key member of the Doves' nationally ranked team.

"I loved Western and all the players there. I grew up with most of them," said Ford, who has a B average. "But I felt that Bryn Mawr would be better for me and my future. I made the decision that academics were more important than athletics."

That's not to say that Ford isn't dedicated to improving herself on the court. She averaged 19.3 points last season and was named to the All-Metro team for the third straight year. This season, Ford, a six-footer who plays both guard positions, is averaging 22.3 points and 13.3 rebounds for the sixth-ranked Mawrtians.

It was instilled in Ford at an early age, however, that basketball was secondary to an education. Ford also learned that the former could pave the way for the latter.

"Kisha decided that basketball would be her ticket to an education, but it wouldn't be any more than that," said Marlene David, who is Ford's adviser and the head of Bryn Mawr's upper school. "She really wants people to respect her for her mind."

David said she was impressed from the start by Ford's "absolute commitment to come in and be a student."

Said Ford: "I first started playing basketball when I was about 6, but it really didn't interest me until I played for my first team when I was 8. My older cousin and my brother wanted me to play. They said 'this could be your ticket to college.' "

Their words proved to be prophetic. Ford has accepted a full scholarship to play basketball at Georgia Tech, where she plans to major in engineering.

Because the Yellow Jackets will lose seven seniors after this season, Ford may start as a freshman. But playing time had no bearing on her decision, Ford said.

"My decision was based on what they could offer as far as academics," she said. "The package seemed complete for me. Georgia Tech has produced a top number of minorities in engineering."

Ford said she doesn't have any negative feelings of her days at Western, although her relationship with Western coach Breezy Bishop was tumultuous at times.

"I was on an ego trip," Ford said. "It took awhile for me to understand that I was there to learn and she was there to teach me. She had a lot of gifts to give. Now I respect her a lot more than I did when I was there."

On the court, Ford picked up at Bryn Mawr where she left off at Western, but the transition from a public school to an independent school was more difficult.

"Coming into Bryn Mawr as a junior is less than easy," Bryn Mawr coach Pat Becker said. "She didn't have the background a lot of kids had. But it made her work a lot harder to accomplish what she has."

Bryn Mawr also presented Ford with a change in environment. Western is a predominantly black school. Bryn Mawr is predominantly white.

"That really didn't effect me," Ford said. "I have a white best friend. I haven't had to go through the feeling of 'oh I'm so alone here.' The white students are very accepting. I'm really glad that I was able to experience two different worlds."

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