UW-River Falls head volleyball coach Patti Ford, the winningest coach in UWRF volleyball history, announced her retirement Wednesday, Dec. 22 after leading the Falcons for 30 seasons.
“I would like to thank Coach Ford for guiding the Falcon volleyball team for the past 30 years,” said UWRF athletics director Crystal Lanning. “During her coaching career, she mentored hundreds of student-athletes both on and off the court and I am grateful for her leadership.”
During her 30 seasons at the helm, Ford guided the Falcons to an overall record of 625-410, collecting four Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Championships and six NCAA Division III national tournament appearances.
The longest tenured head coach in WIAC volleyball history, she ranks fifth in the WIAC in all-time career wins and was recently first among active WIAC coaches in wins. Ford was a three-time WIAC Coach of the Year.
Under Ford's direction, five Falcon volleyball players (Melissa Mattson, Melissa Tvrdik, Nina Petersen, Kat Krtnick and Lexi Pingel) earned the prestigious WIAC Scholar-Athlete Award. Amy Holm, Cara Gustafson, Tvrdik and Krtnick were named CoSIDA Academic All-Americans. Mattson and Tvrdik, were also named the WIAC Player of the Year in 2000 and 2003, respectively.
Ford has coached 41 Falcons to All-WIAC First Team honors, 29 athletes to AVCA All-Midwest Region, and 15 athletes to All-American status.
“When offered the opportunity in 1992 to coach at UW-River Falls, my thoughts were 'this is perfect,' I can coach here for a few years and see where life would take me," said Ford. "Here I sit 30 years later, and I would not have wanted it any other way. I am appreciative for all the amazing people who I have met along the way and am thankful to everyone who coached with me and supported our volleyball program for so many years.
“To Falcon volleyball alumni: It's hard to give up something that I have loved and been so passionate about my entire professional life," Ford added. "I have so many memories of this remarkable journey; one that has produced championships and individual honors, but what I am most grateful for is that you chose UW-River Falls to get your education and that Falcon volleyball was a part of your college experience. I am extremely proud of our work and know you have impacted my life in innumerable ways. It's been an incredible ride; however, I feel like it's a good time for me to step away from coaching to focus on my own health and wellbeing. Go Falcons!"
Ford will remain at UWRF in an administrative role within the athletic department. She will also continue her teaching duties in the UWRF health and human performance department.
Current assistant coach Beth Raebel will lead the Falcons while a national search will begin immediately to find Ford's successor.