Junior Denver soccer standout Kortne Ford (Greeley) signed a professional contract with his hometown club, the Colorado Rapids, on Jan. 6. The center back aided the Pioneers to a semi-final College Cup appearance in 2016, the farthest Denver had ever advanced in the tournament.

“My biggest strength as a player is my competitiveness. It helps drive everything else,” said Ford. “There’s nothing I hate more on this planet than losing. You have to be willing to do whatever it takes on the field and off the field, and in the classroom, to make sure that you’re the best.”

Ford didn’t lose very often at DU, as the club recorded back-to-back undefeated regular seasons in 2015 and 2016.

A three-year starter for Denver, he led a strong backfield which ranked second in goals against average (.40) and second in shutout percentage (.63) in 2016.

Head Coach Jamie Franks and DU coaching staff’s development of players is the lifeblood of the program, which is evident in Ford’s performance and advancement.

“The part that’s overlooked is the character development, not only as a player, but as a person. I came in my freshman year and started, which is pretty rare. I’m not going to lie, I had an ego, just overconfident,” said Ford. “The coaching staff humbled me and put me in my place, which was really important to my development. With my development as a player, they were always straight up with me, telling me where I needed to progress and what I needed to work on.”

Ford scored the game-winning goal against Clemson University in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals, one of his five tallies on the year. Carrying that clutch trait, as well as his determination and work ethic, the defender hopes to earn a consistent and prominent role in the Major League Soccer (MLS) ranks.

“My first year I’m just focused on grinding out the work. I know what it takes to work hard and put in the work. When you’re off the field, nobody really sees it, but I’m confident that as long as I put in the work and don’t take shortcuts my first year, then my second year on I’ll be seeing a lot of minutes and be progressing as a professional athlete,” said Ford.

Coming up through the Rapids Academy since 2012, Ford’s homegrown signing is a clear example of the MLS’ desire to cultivate American talent in teams’ own backyards.

For Ford, the move is especially ideal because he is able to stay close to his mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago. She is now cancer-free, but remains the source of Ford’s inspiration.

“It’s a really big benefit to stay home, so that I can be close to my mom. I can access the facilities and support that I have around DU and it will help make the transition smooth,” said Ford.

As a two-time All-Summit League First Team and 2016 Top Drawer Soccer Second Team All-America selection, Ford’s soccer journey is only beginning.

“It’s really important to put your pride away and be ready to grind,” said Ford.

Ford shouldn’t have any problem doing that moving forward, as he is ready to embark on a new adventure in a familiar city and is finally able to live out his life-long dream of becoming a professional soccer player.