Jayde Forde is a recent graduate from UTM. She completed a major in math and a double minor in statistics and economics. Forde’s family is from Montreal, with roots in Barbados. Forde was born in Toronto but moved to Brampton when she was just a baby and now lives with her mom and aunt, two of her biggest supporters.
“My mom has always been supportive,” said Forde. “My dad has never been in the picture. My mom always encourages me to do what I want, especially in soccer. But she’s one of those annoying soccer moms that scream at you while you’re on the field. But she’s the reason I’ve reached where I am today and achieved all that I have.”
Despite her heavy involvement in athletics and sport, sports is not a thing in Forde’s family, let alone soccer. “I really don’t know where I get it from.”
Forde’s mom, like most parents, put Forde in various activities as a child, from Girl Guides to soccer. When she was four years old, Forde was enrolled in a sports camp that featured soft ball, soccer, dodgeball and others. “I just liked soccer the most.”
Forde’s mom gave her the chance to try other things, but Forde wasn’t interested. In high-school Forde was just as much a multisport athlete as she is now, having played soccer, basketball, and volleyball. But soccer was always her favourite.
Forde played for UTM’s Varsity Women’s soccer team for three and a half seasons, but didn’t join the team in her first year at UTM. Like many young women entering university, the decision to stay involved in sport is a tough decision, especially if eventually going professional isn’t the goal.
“I’d played soccer my whole life. And I wanted to see what it would be like without it. I wanted to experience my first year of university without sports. I just did school and spent time with friends. And then I realized how much I missed it, and how much I needed it to be a part of my life. It impacted my grades and my physical health.”
In her second year, Forde was encouraged by her Residence Don and member of UTM’s Varsity soccer team, Jennifer Soehner. “[Soehner] saw me playing soccer at one of the Colman Cup events and encouraged me to try out.” Forde tried out the following year and made the team. Alongside playing Varsity soccer for UTM, Forde was heavily involved in campus athletics playing intramural volleyball, basketball, dodgeball, and soccer.
Forde described the transition from student to student-athlete as different but “a good different.”
“It definitely helped with time management, which was non-existent for me in my first year. In my first year, I just did things whenever I wanted. Soccer gave me structure. I don’t think I saw it as being difficult [being a student-athlete] because it was fun. Soccer was always fun.”
One of her favourite moments about playing for UTM was scoring a goal in the final seconds of a game. “I scored a goal in the 90th minute, tying the game and causing the other team’s coach to yell at their goalie.”
Forde’s other favourite moment was when she was named an OCAA All-Star in her final season of play. An award given to a select few athletes, as each division picks 10-15 that stand out within the league. Her former coach, assistant coach and Humber hall of famer, Sonia Carreiro, reiterated the incredible accomplishment. “It was a great accomplishment that Jayde had in her soccer career at UTM—she was the first UTM Women’s Soccer player to be named to the OCAA All-Star team in the 2018 outdoor season.”
Forde played center back at UTM, and prefers the position. “I think I see the field the best when I’m back there. When I’m striker, I feel like I’m useless. I’m not the kind of player that uses all these tricks to get around defenders. It’s not what I’m strong at. I’m strong at defending—catching up with someone with the ball, taking it away or clearing the ball. I feel like I can see the channels to pass, as a striker you just see where to score.”
Carreiro has nothing but positive things to say about Forde. “Jayde Forde is one of the most decorated female soccer players that UTM has had in our five years as a varsity program. Game in and game out, Forde was known for her outstanding defensive play. On the field she took over the games, unyielding to any attack that came down her way. She was the type of player that you hated to play against but you loved to have on your team.
“Forde not only put in the work on the field but she also put in the work off the field as well. She grew into a player that bought into the team atmosphere and gave it 150 per cent at every game. Forde was a coach’s dream,” says Carreiro.
Forde played on a number of soccer teams growing up, each team more competitive than the last. Forde’s mom believes if her daughter joined all the teams that offered, she might have had an opportunity to play for team Canada. But Forde, herself, has no regrets. “I had fun.”
Surprisingly, Forde doesn’t follow soccer: she’s an NBA fan. “I love soccer, but basketball is just a lot more fun to watch.” Her favourite teams are the Raptors and the Golden State Warriors. Her favourite player is Stephen Curry. “He can shoot threes, and he just seems like a great person outside of basketball.”
On the UTM’s Varsity team, Forde felt she was someone the team could rely on. “If I’m back there [center back] it’s not as big of a worry. They’re confident in me to help out in case our defense broke down.”
It’s been nearly a year since Forde graduated from UTM and from the Women’s Soccer team. She now helps out with the team as a manager, assistant coach of the Tri-Campus Women’s Basketball team and is the head coach of UTM’s Tri-Campus Women’s Soccer team. Forde goes to team practices and games.
“My old teammates are the reason I wanted to come back. I’d made such close bonds with them. And the Coach asked if I wanted to stay involved, and I said yes.” Forde made the decision to coach to see what it would be like on the other side. “I’ve always played. I’ve never really coached anything before. I’m just learning and seeing the different challenges. And it has been challenging, but it’s been fun. I’m learning new things all the time, and I’ll learn as the year goes on.”
Carreiro wasn’t surprised with Forde’s decision to stay involved in the game. “When the opportunity came up for Jayde to coach her own team, she did not hesitate and was up for the challenge. She is someone who loves the sport and wants to be involved with the community. And although Jayde may not be as outspoken as her peers, she has grown into a leader who leads by example. She has continued to inspire others by her dedication and compassion to others. She is always the first one to help anyone out who needs it.”
Forde sometimes underplays the impact she has on her teammates. Current senior varsity soccer player, Noor Aldoori believes that Forde is a true leader by example. “Playing with Jayde was such an honor because she was a player who you could just put your entire faith in. Every game she would show up and execute her job very well—no complaining, no excuses. She was not always the most animated and vocal player, but when she was, it was always something very meaningful and important.”
Playing for UTM has brought Forde out of her shell, having always been a shy person. “I’m definitely still a little shy, but I’ve become more outspoken. I feel like sports is in my blood. I just like to play things and be active. Being a part of an athletic community just makes sense. I feel like I’d be lost if I wasn’t a part of something, even if I’m not playing.”
Forde’s heavy involvement in sports at UTM paid off when she was awarded UTM’s highest Athletic Award: Female Athlete of the Year. It was a secret goal of Forde’s to win the award, having won it at every school she attended from middle school to high-school. In 2018, she capped off her academic and athletic journey at UTM with her fifth and final Female Athlete of the Year award.
Despite the awards and the praise, Forde wants her actions and attitude to be how people remember her.
“I hope that for future students I’m someone they can look up to, and strive to be like. The female sports culture at UTM hasn’t been the greatest. I want other women to see the types of experiences you can have when you just try, whether it be a sport you love or something new.”