Young Waco girl dreams big after chance encounter with Baylor track coach

Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 2:42 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A Central Texas girl chasing her dreams of running track at Baylor is one step closer to making that a reality after a chance encounter with a longtime and highly decorated Baylor Track & Field coach at a local restaurant.

Collins McCallan, a pre-k student at St. Paul’s Episcopal Day School, was eating lunch with her mom, Sade, older brother Mason , 7, and younger brother Daniel, 2, at the World Cup Cafe in Waco when Michael Ford, Baylor’s Head Men’s Track Coach, walked into the restaurant dressed in camouflage.

His clothing caught the attention of the kids.

“Mason noticed that the man was in camouflage and he asked me if he was a soldier and I told him to ask him,” Sade said. “He said ‘no’ that he wasn’t a soldier but he was a Baylor track coach.”

Collins almost couldn’t contain her excitement being that close to a Baylor track coach.

“When he said he was a Baylor track coach she lit up like a Christas tree,” Sade recalled.

Since Collins was barely old enough to talk, she’d been watching YouTube track videos with her dad who was a track star at Cedar High School before injury prevented him from running at the collegiate level.

When her love of Baylor began, Collins didn’t live in Waco. In fact, her family just moved to the area from Houston. Her parents also didn’t attend college at Baylor but somehow the little girl gravitated toward those running for the green and gold.

“She used to hear the announcers on one of the videos she used to watch and he would mention Baylor,” her mom said. “She saw the green and she just recognized that as her team.”

Coach Ford posed with pictures with the pint-sized fans and her brothers.

Sade said that was enough to make her daughter’s dreams come true but before the coach left, he had another surprise.

“About 30 minutes later he comes back over and he hands her one of the Baylor batons he had in his car to get her started on her ventures,” Sade beamed.

The little girl excitedly ran around the restaurant, her mom says.

Sade was so impressed by Ford’s kindness, she posted about it in a Facebook group she’s a part of called Waco Moms In The Know.

At the time of the posting, she wasn’t sure of Ford’s name and had no idea he was the head coach. Her post ended up reaching Ford who reached out to the little girl again.

“He asked me if we were going to be back in town that she was more than welcome to come to the meet in April. I mentioned that we’d just moved to the area and we’d be more than willing to attend,” Sade said.

Sade plans to take Collins to the meet in the Spring and says her daughter can’t wait to see the Baylor action up close.

“I’ve always laughed because I’ve wanted at least one of them to follow my alma mater of Hampton University but at that moment I was like ‘okay, Baylor, we’re sold,” Sade said.

Ford’s coaching resume at Baylor is impressive.

He’s mentored multiple All-Americans including three-time All-Americans Howard Fields III and Matthew Moorer, two-time All-American Maxwell Willis and first-time All-American Ryan Croson.

Ford also coached 3-time gold Olympic medalists Jeremy Wariner.

While running at Baylor, Ford was considered the nation’s best 4x400-meter relay leadoff leg. In 1995, he sparked the Bears national title relay team to a school record time of 3:00.60, then the fifth-fastest outdoor time in NCAA history, during the preliminaries of the NCAA Championship meet.

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