Senior Jessica Woodford joined in on National Signing Day Wednesday as she inked her name to play soccer for the Weber State Wildcats women’s soccer program next season. It was far from a sure thing.
After a stellar junior year in which she helped the Lady Braves basketball team to the Wyoming 3A state championship by shooting 75-percent for the weekend and a (23-4) record, Woodford moved on to her other passion, Lady Braves soccer. She shattered her own school records for goals in a game, (5 on two occasions and 4 on two occasions), goals in a season (30 which led 3A last season) and put herself atop the career goals list with 49. The team finished as the state runner-up in the title match, a high-water mark for the program. Her tape was compelling enough that the Wildcats were interested.
Then came the setback that is all to familiar in sports. Woodford, playing at a summer camp in Idaho for the basketball program, took a steal in for a layup, a common occurrence within the Lady Braves playing style. But this time her knee buckled and she went to the floor. Eight months later with intensive rehab, she is jogging again and the Wildcats offered her a scholarship based on the strength of her junior highlight tape alone.
“Every parent wants these types of opportunities for their kids,” said Rick Woodford. “When Jess hurt her knee last summer I just didn’t think it would still happen. We are grateful for the people who have helped us through this process. We owe you a debt we can’t repay.”
As for Woodford, her quiet demeanor belies a drive that has put her in this position.
“I decided last season that playing in college was something I wanted to do,” she said. “It’s been [emotional] and I’m just grateful for the people who have helped me get here.”
Woodford played for Allison Hicks who was the Lady Braves inaugural coach for the soccer program but stepped away after nine years last spring. Teton High School (Driggs, Idaho) head coach, Sandy Buckstaff, will be taking over the reins this spring. She is the first D-1 scholarship reciepient for the SVHS program in either gender.
As the only signee for the program she is anxious for what lies ahead.
“The coaches say they are excited to have me and I’m excited to play.”