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Kalifa Ford’s journey as a student-athlete-mom

Kalifa Ford is a 22-year-old from Bono, Arkansas, managing three different lifestyles while aiming for one goal: a comfortable life for herself and her family.

Ford is a junior guard forward for VSU’s women’s basketball, an accounting major and a full-time mother to her 10-month-old daughter, Elleauna.

After playing three seasons at her previous school, Oklahoma Baptist University, she realized the coaching styles were not a good fit for her and transferred to VSU.

Ford’s parents accompanied her on the visit to VSU where she was in contact with VSU’s women’s basketball head coach Deandra Schirmer while the team was playing in the NCAA tournament.

“I heard a little bit about Valdosta but not enough to know it,” said Ford.

Schirmer assisted Ford in planning out her college pathway and class schedule.

“I felt like it was a very meaningful visit and it wasn’t just ‘Oh we’re just trying to get you here because we know what you can do’, but ‘We’re trying to get you here but we’re also trying to get you to graduate as well’,” said Ford. “She’s really personal as a coach. She cares about you as a coach and as a player.”

“I thought about going overseas, however I don’t know what that would look like. My coach has connections overseas, but right now it’s two different paths (basketball or accounting),” said Ford.

Traveling out of the country after graduation would also be new for her as she has been right beside her daughter since birth.

Ford’s mother, Mrs. Vickie Ford, says Ford waited seven months to reveal her pregnancy to her family, who immediately uprooted their lives to move to Valdosta and be with her and Elleauna.

“Kalifa has always been the type of person to always take care of people,” said Vickie Ford. “She would fight her friends’ battles if she could. The way she has persevered has been how she was since she was little. This was a big stepping stone and she is fighting to balance motherhood, school, and playing basketball. That’s why we moved up here to help her become who she wants to be.”

Ford appreciates her family’s compassion and even helped find the perfect home for her family to stay in.

“It’s been nice having them here and having a home to come to, especially considering the past four years I’ve been living in a dorm,” said Ford.

This is now Ford’s first active season on the court with her VSU team after being redshirted in 2023. Not only is her family proud of her, but her coach as well.

“Kalifa is an amazing person, and we are so fortunate to have her as a member of our lady blazer basketball family,” said Schirmer. “Her daughter, Elleauna is such a blessing to all of us and I know that she will be so proud of her mother and all that she has accomplished and continues to accomplish.”

Written by Kayla Pool, Spectator Reporter. Photo courtesy of Austin Bruce, Co-Editor in Chief. 

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