With no high school football being played in the state of Washington this fall, Tracy Ford decided to take matters into his own hands to get players back on the field.
Ford, the owner of Ford Sports Performance Center in Bellevue, Washington and a former CFL player, staged an invite-only, three-day minicamp and showcase game on Oct. 4 that involved up to 112 top in-state players and well-known guest coaches such as former Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril, center Justin Britt, wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and former Oregon/current CFL quarterback Vernon Adams, according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.
Well it’s bout to go down Pre game bout to start up!! pic.twitter.com/mcqeZwE5JV
— Tracy Ford (@TFordFSP) October 4, 2020
“These kids need to be seen,” Ford said. “They need to be seen and they need to be evaluated. These kids’ lives are at stake. You know, there are kids that can be the first kids in their family to ever go to college. And that opportunity is in football. So, it’s very important that these kids are out on the field, not only from a recruiting standpoint, but also a mental health standpoint.”
According to Gov. Jay Inslee’s office, the game Ford organized, which was recorded and videotaped for college recruiters, was not permitted to take place and never should have happened, per the state’s COVID-19 guidelines.
“The governor’s office was not told ahead of time, and we would not have sanctioned this activity,’’ Inslee spokesperson Tara Lee said. “This is a clear violation of the governor’s protocols for Pierce County.”
Inslee declined to recommend that the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association resume fall sports in a meeting last month despite the Seahawks playing and the Washington Huskies preparing for an abbreviated Pac-12 season. Youth football is also taking place throughout the state.
Following Islee and the WIAA’s decision not to resume fall sports, Ford joined student-athletes in marching to demand Islee reinstate fall sports. Ford’s mental health argument has also been pushed by the Athletes of Washington group (SAW), which includes local high school football players, in an effort to get fall sports back underway.
“There are multiple youth football games going on, and youth football practices, but nobody has done it to the extent of what we do,” Ford said. “I want to get these kids recruited and help them. So, you have to create the buzz and market these kids and make the event bigger than life to get people’s eyes on it.”