By Kyle LoJacono
Recent Land O’ Lakes graduate Nicole Woodard signed a track and field scholarship with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, an NAIA program in Daytona Beach.
“It’s a great opportunity for me,” Nicole said. “It’s the perfect place for me.”
Nicole competed in the long and high jumps, and also the 4×100 and 4×400-meter relays as a senior. She qualified for the Class 3A state meet in all four events.
The 5-foot-10 Nicole started competing in track while in seventh grade at Pine View Middle, but did not begin doing the jump events until she entered high school. She qualified for the state track meet as a freshman, junior and senior, missing out only during her sophomore year when she suffered a torn anterior curciate ligament (ACL).
Nicole won the Sunshine Athletic Conference (SAC) and 3A-7 district championships in the long and high jump as a senior, plus another district title in the 4×400 relay with Samantha Austin, Hallie Grimes and Alyssa Lonsway. She was named the All-Laker/All-Lutz News and SAC Girls Track Athlete of the Year for her accomplishments as a senior.
Nicole, who will likely stick to the high and long jumps in college, won’t be the only Woodard on the Eagles track team, as her older sister Reta is a junior on the squad. Reta, a 2009 Land O’ Lakes graduated, focuses on the throwing events.
“It’s an amazing thing,” Nicole said. “We push each other a lot and know what the other is thinking. We also can see if the other is doing something wrong in our events.”
Reta, who made states her last two years, also relishes the opportunity to compete with Nicole in college.
“I remember in high school we were the only two from the school to make states my junior year, and that was a privilege,” Reta said. “Now we get to do it again in college and it will be a great opportunity. I have someone who I’ve been with my whole life and I can help her grow. … We’ll get to show everyone what Woodards can do.”
Nicole had success with other Gators teams her senior season. She was the center on the girls basketball squad that went 24-3 en route to claiming a district championship and the first regional finals appearance in program history.
Nicole had a team-high 80 blocks, while adding 176 rebounds, 69 steals and 6.7 points per game. She made the All-Laker/All-Lutz News first team and All-SAC East second team for her work in the paint.
During the fall, Nicole played middle hitter on the volleyball team. She amassed 136 blocks, tied for third most in Florida, and posted 186 kills and 20 aces to help the Gators go 19-4.
Nicole made both the All-Laker/All-Lutz News and All-SAC East volleyball first teams. She was the only student-athlete to make the All-Laker/All-Lutz News first team during the fall, winter and spring seasons this year, but is drawn more to track than any other sport.
“I like that in track you have to push yourself more,” Nicole said. “It’s more individual. You have to do it yourself.”
Nicole also enjoyed learning from Gators coach Harold “Rock” Ridgeway.
“Coach Rock was the best coach I’ve ever had,” Nicole said. “He’s the coach I would always want.”
Nicole will pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in homeland and cyber security, counter terrorism intelligence. She would like to work with the FBI after graduation.
–All stats as recorded to Maxpreps.com by coaches.
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