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Siblings find success in Idaho

Maxx Forde and Ali Forde excel in CBE as well as on the football field and basketball court.

Story by Ben Handel | Photos by Geoff Crimmins
Moscow-Pullman Daily News

MOSCOW — Seldom do a brother and sister attend the same university at the same time, let alone be successful collegiate athletes. In the case of Maxx and Ali Forde, they wouldn’t want it any other way.

“Having her back at the same school, being able to go to her games and cheer her on, it’s great,” Maxx said. “I get to go cheer for my family and see her do well and cheer for the Vandals, too.”

Maxx is a redshirt sophomore defensive end for the Idaho Vandals football team while Ali is a freshman who redshirted with the volleyball team and sees ample playing time as a post on the basketball team.

Natives of Woodinville, Wash., Maxx and Ali come from a family of athletes. Their father, Brian Forde, was a linebacker at Washington State who also played in the NFL for five years, while their mother, Tracey Forde, was a high school track star. At Woodinville high school, Ali enjoyed success in track, basketball and volleyball. Maxx also dabbled in basketball and track, but his real passion was football. In 2009, he was a KingCo 4A Division first-team offensive and defensive selection and was a 4A Associated Press All-State team selection.

“I know our high school coaches were hoping there were going to be a few more Fordes,” Maxx said, laughing. “Unfortunately for them, we’re the only kids in our family.”

In his two seasons at Idaho, Maxx has racked up 52 tackles, three sacks, defended four passes and was named to the’s 2012 All-Name Team — an honor given to players with interesting or unusual names. Down the stretch of the 2012 season, he established himself as one of the best defenders on the team and should continue to have an impact on the defense in his final two seasons with the Vandals.

Ali Forde playing basketballAli has been a pleasant surprise as well. After a slow start to the basketball season due to playing volleyball, she has emerged as a force in the post. Despite only starting three games, she is the Vandals’ second leading rebounder and is fifth in scoring.

“Ali has brought a lot of energy and dedication to the team,” Idaho women’s basketball coach Jon Newlee said. “She has made some strong plays in the post and is developing nicely.”

Only a handful of athletes are able to juggle the demands of school and more than one sport, or be talented enough to play in more than one, but Ali does just that. For her, it is just life as usual.

“It was nice this year because I redshirted in volleyball so it wasn’t as demanding,” Ali said. “When basketball started, I was able to completely switch over and just do basketball. But I’ve been doing this all my life, so I don’t really see it as being that difficult.”

However impressive their achievements on the field or court might be, it is their work in the classroom that makes the Fordes stand out. Both are straight-A students, anything less than a 4.0 GPA is somewhat of a disappointment in the Forde family.

“Back in ninth grade, I had a C in one of my classes and I was frustrated, wasn’t sure if I could bring it up,” Maxx said. “My dad told me if that was going to be a problem, I wouldn’t be able to play sports, so I feel like education has always been our primary focus.”
Maxx Forde on the football field
Maxx is a student of the College of Business and Economics and is aiming for a degree in finance and marketing as well as a minor in statistics. After college, if his dreams of playing in the NFL don’t pan out, he plans to join a successful company, build capital and eventually start his own business.

“Sports are something I love to do, football in particular, but I know that it’s not going to last forever,” Maxx said. “I make sure to make my education my priority so I can take care of myself later in life. I’ve got probably two years of football left, hopefully more after that, but any given play, my career could end so I have to be ready for that.”

Following in her big brother’s footsteps, Ali was considering a career in business, but now she’s having second thoughts.

“I was declared a business major, but I’m thinking of changing it,” she said. “I took a globalization class this semester — was accidentally put in it — and I think I want to help people now.”

The transition from high school to college was tough for Ali, but she said her brother has made things much easier for her by keeping her company, helping her with school and keeping an eye on her — sometimes “maybe a little too much.”

“In my sophomore year of high school, he was a senior, big stud, captain of the football team, all that stuff,” Ali said. “Their quarterback was my age, and he asked Maxx if he could ask me out to homecoming. My brother thought he was just poking fun — you know how guys are — and so he stood up on the bleachers in the middle of the locker room and shouted, ‘If anyone is thinking of asking my sister to homecoming, don’t!’ Needless to say, I didn’t get asked to homecoming that year, so sometimes I think he pushes too much in that aspect, but I honestly couldn’t ask for a better big brother.”

As the self-admitted troublemaker of the family, perhaps it is a good thing Ali has Maxx to watch her back and help her though college.

“When we were little kids, sometimes I would want him to come play Barbies with me, but he would be playing Nintendo 64 or Sega or whatever it was back then and wouldn’t,” Ali recounted. “I would start crying and acting like he had hit me or something and get him in trouble with my mom. I was a terror.”

Luckily, there are no hard feelings between the two for her childish mischief.

“I still look out for her, and if I can’t be there for her I try to make sure someone else is looking out for her, but she also wants her independence so there’s a little bit of give and take there,” Maxx said. “As a big brother, you always want to be there, but she’s good at making her own decisions.”