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Athlete of the Week: Frontier’s Sarah Woodward

Deerfield, MASS—For Frontier Girls Volleyball, championship escorts through town are the norm considering they’ve owned Massachusetts with nine consecutive state titles. For Sarah Woodward and the 2013 Red Hawks, it was a different story. This was not supposed to happen again.
“We went into the season wanting to win and wanting to go as far as we could but it wasn’t something we expected,” Woodward said, “Making it to the state semis this year and winning Western Mass was an unbelievable feeling. It wasn’t something we expected to happen. It was unlike anything I ever felt and winning states was incredible.”

This is a program with an established history, so what was different this year? Why were so many skeptical as to how this new-look team could do it again?

“We know a lot of people doubted us and we weren’t favored to win like we usually are,” Woodward said, “I think this whole season, I would describe our team as very motivated and dedicated.”
“There was some doubt on how good we could be because we lost so much of our starting lineup last year,” coach Sean McDonald said, “I’ve been here 11 years, this is the top or tied for the top for the sweetest result we ever brought.”

Many would take a 20-4 season and run with it. For McDonald, it was his worst record since taking over in 2003, a season in which the team finished 16-4. 241 wins later, McDonald credits Woodward for maintaining the program’s success.

“She just stepped into a power vacuum that everybody graduated. I wasn’t sure how she was going to be with being a leader and being the go-to person on the court,” McDonald said, “When we had other people and we really needed a point, we’d look to them and now we look to Sarah Woodward as one of those people.”

As for everything she provided on the court, Woodward hopes to have left an example of how to lead for future teams facing their doubters.

“Stepping up is not something I felt I had to do but something I wanted to do too, especially since most of our starting players were sophomores,” Woodward said, “There were only two seniors on the court and I wanted to be that player to bring experience.”
In all likelihood, it will lead to more celebrations like we have seen over the past nine years in the very near future.


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