Longtime Oakland basketball coach Greg Kampe talks about his relationship with trainer Tom Ford. Video by Mark Snyder/DFP
Oakland University athletic trainer Tom Ford is retiring after 30 years due to his ALS diagnosis. Those who know him best shared a few stories with the Free Press.
“The day he got here, we went on a bus to the Upper Peninsula to play Lake Superior and Northern Michigan. After the Lake Superior game … we got on the road and the heat went out in the bus. It was cold out, it was 4 below, we’ve got a 5-hour ride with no heat. Within an hour and an hour and a half the windows had frosted. … That was Tom Ford’s first trip with us. The kids believed (jokingly) that he was the curse and he caused this. So he had to live with that for a long time. … He’s sat next to me on the bench for 30 years. We’ve experienced every high, every low together. He keeps a special stat on the bench. Most athletic trainers don’t do that. The new coaches that came in realized how much I trusted Tom and how important he was to our program and to me, the psychology of him being there. I don’t know what I’m going to do without him. … What’s being lost in this is he is a tremendous trainer. Forget the human interest and how everybody loved him. He did his job amazingly well. If a kid sprained an ankle, that kid would be back in a few days. Because of Tom’s ability, the psychology of working with an athlete, he was so good at that. Kids believed in him. Like if he touched the ankle, if felt better.” – OU men’s basketball coach Greg Kampe
“It was almost a running insider joke we had, but before every game on the road or at home, I don’t know if it was superstition, but I was the very first one to get my ankles taped. On the road we would tape our ankles before we went to the game. I’d always be bugging him, ‘T-Ford, what…