By NEMCC Media Relations
BOONEVILLE – Northeast Mississippi Community College women’s basketball coach Ricky Ford has left his “built Ford tough” mark on many Lady Tiger teams since coming to Northeast in 1981.
However, the 2010-11 season turned into his victory lap through the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC).
Ford has announced he will step down as women’s basketball coach at Northeast.
“It has been a wonderful ride for the last thirty four (34) years being able to work with some of the most outstanding young ladies in the world,” Ford said. “It has always been my goal to develop in young people the tremendous work ethic that will be required to be successful in the adult world when they graduate and go to work.”
Ford ended his career at Northeast with an overall record of 588-226.
While wins have not been on the coach’s mind, the satisfaction of a job well done kept Ford going at Northeast for 30 seasons.
“It is always a pleasure to have young ladies come back or call me to tell me theyappreciate the fact that I would not accept any kind of mediocrity from them and that enabled them to achieve far beyond what they thought they could have,” Ford said.
Building success on and off the court was what Ford did since coming to Northeast Mississippi Junior College in 1981.
During his 30-year coaching career, Ford only had four sub-.500 seasons and the first of those did not come until his 2002-03 Lady Tigers finished 11-12 but even it finished as the North Division runner-up.
“When I came to NEMCC in 1981 as women’s basketball coach it was my goal that when NEMCC was mentioned that the first thing that people would think of was the women’s basketball program and I think we accomplished that,” Ford said.
Ford credits his passion for Northeast and women’s basketball as being the reason the veteran coach was able to stay as long as he did.
“My passion for NEMCC and the women’s basketball program is far beyond that of the ordinary person and that has allowed my longevity here to be very positive experience,” Ford said.
Ford’s passion for the game has allowed the coach to enjoy success over three decades at Northeast.
Within five years since taking over the Lady Tiger program in 1981, Ford had transformed the Lady Tigers into national title contenders that included a national runner-up finish in 1986 and a national championship in 1987.
During Ford’s illustrious career, the Lady Tiger basketball coach led his team to 15 North Division titles, nine MACJC State Championships with 6 (six) of those state championships being consecutive and three Region XXIII crowns while leading the Lady Tigers to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA) national basketball tournament on three separate occasions.
Ford went to the national tournament a final time in 2005-06 as the Lady Tigers captured the North Division, MACJC State and Region XXIII titles and finished the season as the nation’s No. 21-ranked team after appearing in the national event in Salina, Kan.
Following his final national tournament appearance, Ford was honored as the Division I, District O, Region XXIII Coach of the Year – an award that is given to the head coach of each of the 16 regional championship teams.
One year after his national tournament appearance, Ford continued his success in theMACJC as the veteran mentor led the Lady tigers back to the Region XXIII tournament for a twenty-fifth straight year as the Lady Tigers once again captured the North Division – their fourth straight division title – and successfully defended their 2006 MACJC State Title.
Ford may be hanging up his coaching whistle but the veteran coach still has plans to carry that same passion he showed on the basketball court into the academic life.
“Even though I am stepping down from the coaching aspect, I still have a tremendous passion for Northeast Mississippi Community College,” Ford said. “This same passion will be carried over as the Dean of Student Services and Athletic Director.”
Ford was appointed Dean of Student Services at the beginning of the 2011 spring semester following the retirement of Kenneth Pounders, and is currently in his sixth year as athletic director for the college.
“Ricky Ford will bring to the Dean’s Office the same passion for the college and for excellence that has served him so well as Coach,” Allen said of his colleague. “His love for students and the desire to help them to be better persons are two of the essential traits that made Dean Ford the obvious choice for this promotion.”
His responsibilities as athletic director has Ford overseeing the day-to-day operations of an athletic department that features eight varsity sports, an all-female cheerleading squad and also coordinates the annual MACJC All-Star Football Classic game that is held each year in December.
Prior to coming to Northeast, Ford built successful basketball programs at Booneville High School coaching the Lady Blue Devils for four years and the Blue Devils for a pair of seasons.
Ford’s overall careen record stands at 676-253 and carries a winning percentage of 72.7 percent into retirement.
An alumnus of Northeast and former Tiger basketball player under Kenneth Lindsey, Ford earned a bachelor’s degree from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree from the University of Mississippi.
Ricky and his wife LuAnne have four children, Aaron, Lauren, Suzanne, and Ben.
Ben is currently the president of the Student Government Association and was recently elected Mr. Northeast Mississippi Community College. Aaron, Lauren and Suzanne are Northeast alumni.