“I’m an extremely driven goal setter so it wouldn’t be comfortable for me to sit back and say I’m going to let the season go by,” said Woodward. “I have so many hopes and things I can do before next year. I’ve learned to expect the unexpected. You never know which freshman or sophomore girl is going to have a great season. I’m a perfect example of someone who came from the shadows and had this great opportunity to succeed. I never take it for granted.”
Woodward placed fourth in the 3200 meters and sixth in the 1600 at state as a sophomore. Last season, she set personal records in both distances while capturing state titles. Her success on the track carried over to the cross country season, her first in high school. Woodward won the WIAA Division 2 state crown last fall in a record time of 13 minutes, 59.53 seconds. Previous fall seasons were spent on the tennis court. Woodward was a member of the Tritons’ state championship tennis teams in 2008 and 2009.
“I plan on playing (tennis) again when I get the chance,” she said. “My family plays. I still have tennis friends. They are truly awesome teammates.”
Competing in multiple sports fits her personality, said Woodward. Family members often joke that she is never able to decide what to do.
“That’s always been me, someone who gets involved in more than one thing,” she said. “I like to be involved in a bunch of things with a bunch of different people. I didn’t grow up as a runner. I was a dancer and a singer.”
Woodward is more than an athlete at Notre Dame. She sings in the choir and has been active in student government and campus ministry. Service is a priority in her life. Woodward’s outreach includes volunteering with the Service League’s back to school store and the Literacy Council of Brown County. She has also served as a peer tutor at school.
“I feel that if I’ve been given so many opportunities and so many blessings that I should be giving back,” she said.
Service opportunities were part of the package that attracted Woodward to Oregon. She plans to participate in a program called O Heroes.
“Athletes get together once a week or more to get involved with the community, whether it is a church group, helping at schools or mentoring,” she said. “Volunteering and getting out in the community is something I learned here at Notre Dame and is something I really love. I’m excited that I will have the opportunity to continue in college.”
Woodward understands that those who follow track and field likely assume that she made her college choice based on Oregon’s tradition, which includes Hayward Field, Bill Bowerman, Steve Prefontaine, the birth of Nike and the Track Town USA nickname. Much more was involved in her decision, she said.
“I knew that it had to be somewhere I would be happy all the time, not just when I was on the track,” said Woodward. “One of the things I love most about the University of Oregon is the community of the team, the genuine compassion and care that each coach and each person seemed to show for me when I was there on my visit and have continued to show since I’ve signed.
“I was a little bit hesitant,” she added. “I thought that the only way I could grow as a person of faith and academically was if I was at a Catholic university or at an Ivy League school. I was certainly surprised to find myself choosing somewhere that was neither. I felt when I was there, that Oregon satisfied both of those things.”
Three weeks ago, Woodward competed near her future college home. She ran a personal best in the two mile at the Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle. She has run against the nation’s best at other large venues, including winning the Nike Cross Nationals Heartland Regional in Sioux Falls, S.D., and placing sixth at the Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego, Calif.
“I never would have thought that running would bring me so many opportunities to meet so many amazing people,” said Woodward. “I have met so many new friends. I’m looking forward to some of them being new teammates. As far as a network of people and relationships, running has really changed my life in that way.”
Woodward added that she is thankful for the support at Notre Dame, especially the teachers who have been accommodating when she has missed class to compete in another state. She also cherishes the foundation of faith the school has provided. Running and her faith life are linked together, she said.
“There is a peace for me when I’m in the rhythm of a training run,” said Woodward. “It’s almost like there is something missing for me if I don’t have that. It’s like faith, the inner peace that comes from that.”
Woodward, the oldest of four children in her family, is a member of St. Francis Xavier Parish and a graduate of Notre Dame School, both in De Pere. The Resurrection Parish community in Allouez has also helped her grow in her faith, she said.
“I’ve always had a special spot in my heart for Resurrection,” she said. “I was baptized and made my first Communion and confirmation there. I’ve learned a lot from Bishop (Robert) Morneau (pastor) and what he’s been able to teach me spiritually.”
Woodward is unsure what she will study in college. Sports psychology, human physiology, journalism and communications are all possibilities, she said. Her current focus is on representing the Tritons on the track.
“I look forward to enjoying the time with my teammates and hopefully I can be the role model that so many awesome kids have been for me in my high school experience,” she said. “It’s a different set of shoes to be in when you’re a senior.”