What Brianna Ford has done since leaving Randall High School is nothing short of special.
Since stepping on campus at UT Arlington in 2020, Ford has made an immediate impact while not only becoming one of the top players for the Lady Mavs but a leader as well.
Something that’s not surprising to UTA head coach J.T. Wenger.
“We came across Brianna on the club scene,” said Wenger, who is in his seventh season leading the Lady Mavs. “One of my assistants saw her and was very impressed. Bri is a great athlete and she’s very competitive. She’s dedicated and continues to get better. Volleyball is a passion for her and something she wants to do past college.”
For a refresher, Ford left Randall as one of the best to ever wear a Lady Raider uniform in 2019. Ford helped Randall to a Class 5A state championship runner-up appearance. Ford was the first ever Press Sports Volleyball Player of the Year, a TGCA All-State selection, the District 3-5A MVP, as well as being named as Region I-5A Tournament MVP and to the Class 5A All-Tournament team.
Since Randall, Ford has added an abundance of accomplishments to her personal trophy case since stepping on the Division I floor at UTA. As a freshman, Ford was named as a second-team All-Sun Belt selection.
Her junior year, when the Lady Mavs made the move to the Western Athletic Conference, Ford became first player from the Lady Mavs to be named a first-team All-WAC selection. Ford was a member of the Academic All-WAC Team and won multiple team MVP honors.
Ford is carrying on that record-breaking moment this senior season. She’s already been a WAC Player of the Week, was the MVP of the UTA Classic and the UTA Invitational. However, Ford’s biggest accomplishment came during a game on Sept. 25 against Stephen F. Austin State. Ford was able to put her name in the UTA record books by becoming only the 20th player to go over 1,000 kills for their career.
“It was very special to go over 1,000 kills,” said Ford, who has tallied 1,023 career kills. “But I just love UTA. I’m having a lot of fun. I feel I’ve really improved since my freshman year. I got stuck in that COVID year at first, but it’s ramped up and been a really fun experience.”
Lady Raider head coach Haleigh Burns first came to Randall that summer before Bri’s senior year. Burns and Ford have hit it off ever since and Burns still follows her former players career at UTA. Burns said it’s awesome to be able to watch Ford from a far and see what she is accomplishing.
“I was able to watch Bri get her 1,000th career kill on TV the other night,” Burns said. “I’m incredibly proud of her and all she is accomplishing in her volleyball career and just in life in general. I was blessed with the opportunity to coach Bri her senior year and we created a special relationship that I will cherish forever. I love watching her grow as an athlete and young woman. I love Bri and I can’t wait to see what she does in the future.”
Ford is a much different player from her reputation of that devasting right-handed swing at Randall that produced so much power. While being a powerful hitter hasn’t changed, Ford feels she’s become a much all-around player on the court.
“I had a knee surgery and December,” Ford said. “That made me look at changing some things. I feel my defense has increased dramatically this year. I see the court better and I pick my shots more selectively than use my power every time I go for a kill.”
Wegner echoed Ford’s comments.
“Bri is the cornerstone of our program,” said Wenger, whose team is off to a 13-4 start to the year. “The statistics show that but who she is shows that even more. Bri doesn’t waste a day. She is always looking to improve and she’s always advancing her game. That helps fuel the rest of the team that sees the work she is putting in. She has a very high volleyball IQ and is a student of the game.”
Ford compliments playing overseas the past two summers for making her a completely different person and player. The past two summers, Ford has played volleyball in Croatia and Slovenia. That was eye-opening to Ford. Even though she has opted to play one more year at UTA as a super senior, she definitely has the goal of playing professional volleyball in the near future.
“Coach Wenger knew I wanted to play professionally,” Ford said. “Playing overseas has been an amazing experience. I played in a Global Challenge made up of United States, Slovenian, and European teams. I felt like that really took my play to a new level. I’ve always had a dream of playing pro and being able to go over there made me want to go play pro more than ever.”
As for her time at Randall. Ford will never forget her playing days for the tradition-rich Lady Raiders and being a part of such a tremendous program and school.
“Randall played a very big role of who I am today,” Ford said. “The teachers, the coaches, they value who you are as a person as much as an athlete. I don’t think teachers or coaches get enough credit for shaping young people’s lives. It’s truly incredible. Coach Burns is someone that I feel propelled me, and I will always have so much respect for her for that.”