Seniors Taylor Ford and Matt Johnson signed ceremonial National Letters of Intent confirming their commitment to continue their athletic careers at the NCAA level this fall. Ford will play tennis at Tuskegee University, a Division II program competing in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Johnson will play basketball at Widener University, a Division III program competing in the Middle Atlantic Conference. Director of Athletics Katie Bergstrom Mark spoke at the ceremony honoring the standout athletes on May 24, held at the Friends Free Library. Teammates, coaches, and family members joined in celebration, and the event was live-streamed so that supporters, from coast to coast, could cheer on Ford and Johnson!
“You both represent our school in a plethora of ways. Each day in the classroom, tackling the academic rigor of your courses, working with your teachers, and collaborating with your classmates. You are leaders in our wider school, serving as team captains and also social justice advocates, mentors, artists, and more. And through sports, you are exceptional and have been recognized by coaches of top programs and recruited to join the elite college sports ranks,” said Bergstrom Mark.
Ford has been a mainstay for the Tigers’ highly successful tennis squad, which has advanced to the championships each year during her time, and this year captured the Friends Schools League title. She has played at No. 1 singles for multiple seasons and was named All-League three times. Ford is ranked in the Top 30 in Middle States, qualifying for multiple national tournaments.
“I chose Tuskegee because they have a really good nursing program. I also chose it for tennis because when I visited, I really liked the team vibe, and the coach seemed really nice and cared about his players. In college, I’m going to keep working on my mental game. Sometimes as athletes we focus too much on our physical — not our mental state — so I’m going to strengthen that part of my game,” said Ford.
Johnson is headed to Widener University, following in a recent GFS grad Peter Gard’s footsteps. A four-year starter and Top 5 freshman scorer in all of PA, Johnson has been a key player for Tigers Basketball throughout Upper School. In his junior season, he led the team in scoring with 16 PPG. He missed three-quarters of his senior season due to a fractured back, but made an instant impact once he returned. Johnson is known for his hard-nosed play, diving and taking on defenders twice his weight. He was recruited by more than 20 colleges.
“I’m really excited to play college basketball; I’ve wanted to do this since I was nine or 10 years old. I chose Widener because, for me, it fit what I wanted to do, which is physical therapy, and they have a good program. And on the basketball side, they made it to the semifinal this year and I think I can push them over that hump to get to the championship game and win it,” Johnson said.
Ford and Johnson join an elite group of classmates who will play in college. The five others were celebrated at a January event. View the gallery of all seven Tigers celebrating their college commitments.
“Our community will be following the next steps of your careers from Coulter Street! Remember your GFS Tiger pride as you transition into your life as a Golden Tiger at Tuskegee and a Widener Lion!” added Bergstrom Mark.
Noteworthy: Athletics would like to acknowledge another group of seniors who have goals to continue their athletic careers in college. but whose participation is pending: Zuri Abdus-Salaam (University of Virginia Track & Field), Charlie Brodkin (Vassar Cross Country and Track & Field), Hanif Goins (Morehouse Basketball), Alexa Hanson (Williams Lacrosse), Otis Harrison (Wesleyan Crew), Martina Kiewek (Maastricht University team or National Basketball Academy of Linburg's semi-professional team); Zoe Schaedle (Bates Soccer and/or Lacrosse), Adan Solomon (Virginia Tech Rowing), and Henry Zabierek (University of Pennsylvania Lacrosse).