Aug. 15, 2014
WASHINGTON - Normally by the time a student-athlete steps foot onto campus their freshman year the recruiting process that they went through in high school is just a distant memory. Well, Faith Woodard is not your normal collegiate athlete. Woodard, who came into Georgetown via Brandon, Fla., as one of the nation's top high school basketball recruits in the Class of 2013, would still have one final offer to consider.
As a result of being a highly decorated two-sport athlete at Freedom High School in the Tampa Bay area, a line from Woodard's basketball bio would eventually grab the attention of some of the coaches down the hall at McDonough Arena in the track & field offices.
That line - Captured two FHSAA Class 4A State High Jump Championships ... - would be the catalyst for one final recruiting pitch.
The interest wasn't completely out of the blue seeing as how Woodard had previously fielded dual sport offers due to her high jumping prowess in high school, but eventually she made the decision to just stick with one sport, or so it seemed.
"I also got interest for track but when it came down to it and signing, basketball has always been my number one priority and so I just stuck with that."
Initially the thought of adding another sport to go along with her academic and basketball commitments as a Hoya was a bit overwhelming. Over time she realized competing in both of the sports she loved was still a reality due to her coaches and teammates.
So after starting 26 games for the basketball team and putting up impressive first year averages of 10.2 points and 4.3 rebounds in 32 games, Woodard turned her attention to track & field.
"The coaches were just amazing," Woodard explained about her transition from basketball to track. "I was really apprehensive at first with being the new kid on a new team but they were so welcoming that I felt at home within two minutes of interacting with them."
Even though she considers track more of an individual sport - particularly when she's high jumping - she still finds a way to draw on her basketball experiences.
"I think the team dynamic of basketball carries over to track," Woodard said.
Instead of making that extra pass for a good shot Woodard is now assisting the team with a certain height in order to help the Hoyas get the valuable points needed to win a meet.
One of the biggest factors that ultimately influenced Woodard's decision to become a two-sport athlete at Georgetown was the fact that she had two incredible examples with her on the basketball team.
Kelyn Freedman and Kelly Comolli - both leaders in their respective sports of lacrosse and tennis - took up basketball for the Hoyas in their senior seasons and played alongside Woodard during the 2013-14 campaign.
Like Woodard, both Freedman and Comolli had been multiple sport athletes in high school and had come to Georgetown to focus on just one sport until given the opportunity to branch out.
"I talked to Kelyn all the time," Woodard said
"She was just so great for our program last year. She just helped our team out so much and it wasn't her main sport but she was willing to give everything she had and give her extra time up just to be with us. I feel like she showed me the way and how to approach something like this so I definitely thank her for that and Kelly also because they were both so great."
Freedman, who played lacrosse, basketball and cross country, in high school had to shake a little of the basketball rust but she was eager to get back on the hardwoord.
The first time she checked into a game for the Hoyas she couldn't help but think to herself, "Is this really happening?"
"It was fun," Freedman said of the experience. "Once you get out there you just try and do what you can to help the team win."
In terms of going from a team leader to just being part of the team, both Freedman and Comolli enjoyed the role reversals.
"That was honestly one of the coolest parts," said Freedman.
Comolli, who played field hockey, basketball, and tennis before coming to Georgetown, was also excited just to be getting back on the court and becoming friends with a different set of teammates.
"It was definitely a different role I had on the basketball team versus the tennis team where I was a leader," Comolli said. "On the basketball team my role was kind of just to bring energy at practice."
Woodard would later joke with Freedman during track season that she knew what it must have felt like for her during basketball season.
After Freedman left the basketball team towards the end of the season she would go on to help lead the lacrosse team to the BIG EAST Championship Final and a spot in the NCAA Tournament where the Hoyas would win their first round game. Comolli would go on to co-captain the tennis team to a .500 record.
One of the underlying themes with all three of Georgetown's two-sport athletes last year was the understanding, cooperation and coordination between the respective coaches.
Veteran women's lacrosse coach Ricky Fried was very open to the idea of having one of his senior leaders play another sport. For him it was important to talk things over with Freedman and make sure this wouldn't be a passed opportunity that she would one day look back on and regret from her college days.
"Kelyn came to us and asked because she had the opportunity to play basketball and we talked about the pros and cons."
"She could get injured walking down the hill so I didn't really focus on those things because we can't control them. She knew the pros and cons and we discussed them and it worked out great for both her and our team because it kind of rallied our team around certain things in the winter to watch her play basketball."
Coach Fried did, however, admit that it's probably not something that every student-athlete can handle.
"I think it takes a unique individual to be able to handle being in-season all year long and managing your academics so your priorities are even different than just your own teammates."
As a freshman Woodard would benefit greatly from the support system already built in at Georgetown.
"It was all been pretty demanding but I was able to do it with the academic coordinator working with me," Woodard explained. "The coaches were very understanding, and I got help from tutors."
So how did Freedman handle her double duty this past season?
"I think she handled it great," Coach Fried said without hesitation. "I think it was a great experience for her and for our team and it benefitted the basketball team as well."
The basketball team offered up similar support to Woodard but location ended up being a bit of a roadblock during meets. "They were really supportive and they were actually upset that there weren't any meets in the Georgetown area because they were all about coming out to support doing track," Woodard said.
Woodard ended up finishing fourth in the women's high jump at the BIG EAST Championships. Not too bad for a last minute recruit that wasn't even focused on the sport when the last academic calendar began.
"I was kind of apprehensive at first thinking about whether I was going to be able to handle it or not but this is definitely something I'd like to do over the next three years at Georgetown.