All of The562’s cross-country coverage for the 2021-22 school year is sponsored by Bryson. Visit BrysonFinancial.com to learn more.
The Long Beach Poly cross country team wore its pink jerseys for Breast Cancer Awareness month on Wednesday, and most of the team had pink strips under their eyes with “LB” written on one side and “Poly” written on the other. Jackrabbits boys’ and girls’ cross country coach Cameron Ford had something different written on his: “Granny” written under one eye, and “Strength” written under the other.
Wednesday’s meet was the cause of much celebration for Poly, with strong team victories in both varsity races signaling that this may be the program’s best season in four years. But Ford was in a somber mood: his family lost his grandmother, Mary Ford-Haywood, to cancer last week. Her services will be held in Long Beach this Friday.
“I’m really proud of our kids but honestly the only thing I really want to talk about is my Granny,” said Ford. “Make sure you take care of your family. This team here, they’re my family and we take care of each other. They’re responsible, they made it so I could step away and be with my other family for a few days. Having a team like this, taking care of each other like family, that’s what Granny preached and I think that’s my message for today. The results are great but I’m really proud of who these kids are.”
Mary Ford-Haywood grew up in Tyler, Texas, and moved with her husband to the Westside of Long Beach to plant their family. That family has been a Jackrabbit legacy–both of Cameron’s parents as well as his parents’ siblings attended Poly, as did he and his four siblings. That family has been present around the Poly XC program since he took over as head coach last year, and his siblings were volunteering on Wednesday to help set up the course at Signal Hill, as well as to run the timing system.
“There’s no Ford family, there’s no Poly for us without our Granny and her coming to Long Beach,” said Ford. “She volunteered and took care of the football team when my uncle Dwight was playing and she was so proud when I became the head coach of this team. She said she was going to come out to a meet, and because she was sick she was never able to. But she asked me after every meet how it went and how we did.”
Ford’s Jackrabbits did great on Wednesday–they’ll be in action with the rest of the league in three weeks at the Moore League cross country finals at Heartwell Park on Nov. 3.