By Kyle LoJacono
Faith Woodard had trouble fighting back tears while talking to her family and teammates in attendance during her signing ceremony Nov. 14 in Freedom High’s gym.
The 6-foot-2 forward snapped back to basketball mode just before inking her name to a letter of intent to play at Georgetown University.
“This season is something we’re going to look back at and be happy with because we are going to states,” Woodard said, which was answered with thunderous cheers.
Woodard transferred last summer from Riverview, where she averaged 21.4 points, 11 rebounds, four steals, 3.1 blocks and three assists as a junior.
She has played only two regular season games for Freedom, but her presence has already been felt. Woodard has put up 55 points for the 2-0 Patriots and sits at 1,439 for her career.
Woodard had 15 to 20 offers to play in college, but said the combination of scholastics and athletics at Georgetown won her over.
“It’s such a prestigious school academically,” Woodard said. “It’s one of the best schools in the country. I just couldn’t say no.”
Freedom coach Laurie Pacholke said Georgetown is getting more than just a top-notch basketball player.
“They’re getting a phenomenal kid on and off the court, and they’re getting a great family to go along with it,” Pacholke said. “She has the potential to be the face of a program. She’s the whole package.”
Woodard started playing basketball in second grade and called her sister Erica, who played at the University of Tampa, her basketball inspiration.
“I always wanted to be like her and try to break her records,” Woodard said.
Woodard said having her college plans set is like “a big elephant” off her back. She is unsure about her major, but is looking at biology or prelaw. She added that it still hasn’t completely sunk in where she will play next year.
“It’s not really hitting me that I’m going to Georgetown until today,” Woodard said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to play in the Big East, which is one of the best conferences.”
Pacholke has had at least one player sign with a college every year she’s had a senior on her roster. She said Woodard is the program’s second Division I signee and first to ink with a school from one of the so-called power six conferences.
“It’s really exciting for Freedom High School basketball and for Hillsborough County,” Pacholke said. “The talent in the county is getting better, and when you have a kid like Faith sign with Georgetown it brings more attention to the area.”
—Follow Kyle LoJacono on Twitter: @Kyle_Laker
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