By Kyle LoJacono
One of the biggest additions, figuratively and literally, to any Hillsborough County school’s athletic program came when Faith Woodard transferred from Riverview to Freedom last summer.
The 6-foot-2 senior, who has committed to play basketball at Georgetown University, said the move was to take advantage of the better scholastics at the New Tampa school.
“Academically, this is a better school then I was used to,” Woodard said. “I knew I wanted to be ready to go to college, so I thought this would better prepare me to go to Georgetown. This school will get me academically fit.”
Her addition is welcomed by members of the Patriots basketball team, who see the forward as a key piece to a run at states. Woodard put up 21.4 points, 11 rebounds, four steals, 3.1 blocks and three assists per game at Riverview last year.
“She’s really amazing,” said senior guard Neena Pacholke, who played with Woodard on a travel team as freshmen. She added, “She’s so smooth in the post and can score from almost anywhere.”
Woodard’s first experience with Freedom’s program came as a freshman, when the Patriots defeated Riverview 65-46. She liked what she saw.
“They always play aggressive and hard, and that’s what I really loved about the team,” Woodard said. “Most people often confuse it with being a mean team, but they play hard and aggressive, and it’s great to be with a team like that. … I’m so ready because everyone is always hyped and ready to play. That’s the mindset we need to take it over the top.”
Woodard said she has also adjusted to school life at Freedom.
“It gets better and better every single day,” Woodard said. “Being the new kid on the block the first couple days was kind of hard, but after about three days I felt like I was at home, like I’ve been here all my life.”
Woodard was also a standout track athlete at Riverview. She reached the Class 4A final in four events, where she captured the high jump title (5-feet 8-inches) and placed sixth in the 400-meter (56.74 seconds).
“I’m about 90 percent sure that I might want to do track again this year,” Woodard said. “I’m almost there.”
Track can wait for the spring. Right now, Woodard is anxious for the opening tip of her senior year on the hard court.
“I have a countdown on my iPhone right now for our first game,” Woodard said. “I’m so ready to play with my team and deliver. Beat everyone’s expectations and then some.”
Freedom’s first regular season game is Nov. 13 at Alonso at 7 p.m. Her first home game is Dec. 3 against Hillsborough at 8 p.m.
—Follow Kyle LoJacono on Twitter: @Kyle_Laker