More than a decade ago, she came to Columbia and helped turn the fortunes of the women's soccer program. Now Tosh Forde is back in school in New York, and celebrating the Lions' first Ivy championship.
Recently Elizabeth "Tosh" Forde received a phone call from her parents in Needham, Mass. An overnight letter had arrived from Columbia University. Should they open it?
The letter was an invitation to join the inaugural class of Columbia University's Athletics Hall of Fame. "I was completely surprised," she remembers.
Forde was in pretty heady company. Not only would she be inducted with NFL All-Pro Marcellus Wiley and Olympic Gold Medal swimmer Cristina Teuscher, but this first group of honorees also would include Columbia icons Lou Gehrig and Eddie Collins, both baseball Hall of Famers, and NFL Hall of Famer Sid Luckman. "It's the most honored I've ever been in my life," says Forde.
Forde's journey to the Hall of Fame from Needham began early. "I was obsessed [with sports,]" she recalls. "I played soccer from the time I was five years old. I went to my neighbor's game and came home and begged my mom to sign me up."
At age 12 Forde met her future Columbia coach, Kevin McCarthy (then a Columbia assistant coach), at a soccer camp. A heavily recruited player, when it came time to choose a college, McCarthy convinced her to come to Columbia. "I made my choice of Columbia because of Kevin," she says, "I had faith in him making Columbia good, knowing that we could build something there."
Columbia's women's soccer program started League play in 1986, but had won only three League games in eight seasons when McCarthy took over before the 1994 season. The team improved significantly that first season to a 6-8 overall record. Forde's arrival in 1995 was anticipated as a key to additional success. With "a wealth of talented freshmen -- including high school All-America Tosh Forde -- Columbia appears ready to make its mark in Ivy League play," noted the Columbia Record.
Forde delivered. In 1996 she led the Ivy League with 17 goals and 47 points (also Columbia records), as the Lions compiled a 12-5-1 record, the team's first winning record. Then as a senior co-captain in 1998, Forde led Columbia to its first-ever Ivy winning season and a record 12-2-5 overall mark. "It was very satisfying," remembers Forde. "We didn't have a lot of dynamic talent, but we had great team drive and chemistry. Everyone was 100 percent committed."
Over her career Forde set several Columbia records, including career goals (30), career assists (26) and career points (86). In recognition of her achievements, Columbia awarded her the Connie S. Maniatty Outstanding Senior Student-Athlete Award in 1999.
After graduation Forde, a history major as an undergraduate, worked as a consultant in change management and leadership innovation for Arthur Anderson in Los Angeles. She then played professional soccer, coached the Massachusetts Premier Soccer's Boston Renegades reserve team, and worked in community and business relations for the team.
"I wanted to go back to business school," says Forde, who is now a second-year MBA student at New York University's Stern School of Business. She has already accepted a position at Credit Suisse after graduation in 2007, providing strategic advising to corporations.
Forde had a tremendous career at Columbia, but perhaps more important was the transformation in the women's soccer team that she helped bring about. Before she arrived the team had an overall winning percentage of .264; during her career that figure more than doubled to .535, and the team has continued to play well in what is one of Division I's most competitive women's soccer leagues.
Just weeks ago, McCarthy's team won its first-ever Ivy championship.
Tosh Forde's decision to attend Columbia and play soccer prepared her for personal achievement after graduation. But it also made a difference for Columbia, laying the foundation for her team's continuing success a decade later.
Ed. note - Columbia?s women?s soccer prospects were also assisted greatly by Tosh Forde?s teammate, Liz Cheung ?98. Playing defense, Cheung was three-time All-Ivy, including first team All-Ivy in 1997, and was named by Columbia to the Ivy League?s Silver Anniversary Team in 1999.
— Stephen Eschenbach