Rapids defender Kortne Ford is a full participant in First Team training after two years battling injury. He sat down with ColoradoRapids.com to discuss his journey back and the season ahead.

ColoradoRapids.com: How has preseason been going so far?

Ford: For the team, it’s been great. I think the biggest takeaway from it is that we’re starting really to implement some of the tactics that the coaching staff want us to get behind and obviously the clean sheets we had, not getting scored on. For me personally, as expected with two years off, there’s some ups and downs. You’ll have a good couple days and then you’ll have a couple days where you’re really sore. It’s just about load management and whatnot but, for the most part, it’s been good.

ColoradoRapids.com: How have you managed to push through those two long periods, trying to battle those injuries to get to this point?

Ford: Those two years were brutal. There’s a lot of time where you feel like you’re close, you’re almost close to being back and then just to find out that the issue at hand isn’t sorted. It’s rough, it’s rough mentally. The only thing I can focus on now is the fact that we’re back now, we’re together. It’s nice to be around the guys, just around the banter. Stuff like that goes a long way. It’s just nice being around the team again and being back out there with the boys.

ColoradoRapids.com: Who helped you along the way?

Ford: The guys that I’ve played with for a while. Obviously, Andre [Shinyashiki], we went to college together, he was right there by my side. It’s tough. I’m probably—with the exception of [goalkeeper coach Chris] Sharpe—I think I’m the only person left on the team when I signed back in [2017] so it’s tough coming into a whole new coaching staff, a whole new locker room of players and feeling like you have to prove yourself. [Sharpe] was big on the fact that, he was like, ‘Take care of your body, get right, make sure you’re feeling good and the rest will take care of itself.’ He’s probably been the biggest help along the way, but all the guys have been great. [Jack] ‘Pricey’ and the whole group of guys, they do a lot of words of encouragement to keep me going, because obviously there are a lot of ups and downs coming back.

ColoradoRapids.com: You came up through the Rapids Academy and made it to the First Team. What have you seen from the younger guys that were recently signed out of the Rapids Academy?

Ford: It’s always great just because they’ve been training with us for a while prior to being signed. It’s funny, they start training with us and you see where they struggle and where they need to develop and then, over the years, they start to master those bits where they needed development. It’s really cool to see them come in initially and see how much they grow over the years and watch them step in in First Team training and see them perform well. It’s just awesome watching [Oliver Larraz and Darren Yapi] specifically, but also just the development. That the Academy keeps putting out good products.

ColoradoRapids.com: What excites you most personally going into this season?

Ford: I think the thing that excites me most is proving everybody wrong. As expected, you kind of feel written off when you have a good couple years and you’re all everybody talks about and then you have a bad couple years off with an injury. The thing that I look forward to most is just the fact that I’m hungry and want to prove people wrong and prove myself wrong in a lot of ways. Over those two years, there’s a lot that goes on mentally, a lot of self-doubt. And also on the other end there’s a lot of confidence and a lot of motivation just to get back on the pitch and get your body back and start performing again. For the most part, I think my biggest goal for this season is to focus on myself individually and getting back on the pitch and getting my legs back, getting my fitness back. But at the same time, our first-hand goal as a team should be to make the playoffs again, make a playoff run and see what we can do in playoffs.