To hear Rachel Wofford and her coaches tell it, her success as a soccer forward and softball center fielder happens as much before games as during competition.
“Her approach is awesome,” Capital High School softball coach Eric Riske said. “She’s always there, she’s always early, she has a natural work ethic.”
“She’s very passionate about her role as a team captain,” Cougars soccer coach Adriana Montes said. “She portrays a role of calm, that everything is going to be all right.”
Wofford says she takes a deep breath before each game.
“I remind myself that every game is just a game, no matter the stakes,” she said by email from Italy, where she is on a post-graduation trip — a gift from her grandmother. “Good team chemistry and enjoying playing can carry a team further than skill can.”
Not that Wofford lacks skill.
She recorded 25 goals and 15 assists during the soccer season to claim all-state honors and a third straight 3A Narrows first-team selection as Capital compiled a 13-2-2 record. In the spring, she earned honorable mention all-league honors for softball. Academically, she graduated among the top 10 students with a 4.0 GPA.
That combination has earned her The Olympian’s 2016 Female Athlete of the Year Award.
Playing more than one sport is nothing new for Wofford, who took up soccer at age 4 and softball at 7. She sees the benefits of each sport helping her in the other.
“Soccer is more physically challenging, and softball is more mentally challenging,” she said. “The physical training that soccer requires helps me start off the (softball) season in good shape, while the mental training that (softball) requires helps me shake off my mistakes on the soccer field.”
Montes, praised by Wofford as an “amazing” and “welcoming” coach, credits her 5-foot-6 scoring leader with a desire to constantly push herself.
“Rachel is dedicated to learning,” she said. “She has natural talent, so she can accomplish most skills. Once she does, she wants to keep getting better. It makes her that much more coachable.”
Wofford — who has a musical side as well, having played piano since age 7 — sees parallels to her athletic and academic success.
“Putting in your best effort, working through challenges instead of giving up, making sacrifices and setting high standards for yourself are key,” she said. “Athletics and academics don’t differ much except that athletics can be more enjoyable, and teams provide a built-in support group.”
Wofford will major in mathematics at Whitworth University, where she will also play soccer and hopes to choose from a variety of career paths.
On the field, she expects to play either forward or in the midfield, though a coaching change after she committed to the Pirates leaves a little uncertainty.
Jael Hagerott recruited Wofford and indicated she might play a lot as a freshman, but when longtime men’s assistant Bryan Olson took over the women’s team in February, the slate was wiped clean as Olson has taken the time to familiarize himself with the players.
Without a doubt, though, the Pirates will have two new fans — Wofford’s parents, Wes and Paula.
“They’ve always been the most supportive parents an athlete or student could ask for,” Wofford said. “They come to every one of my games, even if it means taking a day off work or driving all day. They always know when to encourage or motivate me.”
It’s a good bet some of those qualities rubbed off on their daughter.
“She’s a team leader without saying a lot,” Riske said. “She’s got this big old contagious smile. People are drawn to her.”
The Olympian’s female athletes of the year
With input from coaches and athletic directors, each year The Olympian names its female athlete of the year. Included below are the selections made by athletic directors and coaches from each of the 16 high schools in the area.
The Olympian’s female athlete of the year: Rachel Wofford, Capital.
Brenna Carlson, Olympia, sr. — Eight-time varsity letter winner. State participant in cross country. Also ran track and field for the Bears. Will participate in both sports at Central Washington University.
Sara Bowen, Timberline, sr. — The Saint Martin’s University commit averaged 12.6 points and 4.4 assists per game for the Blazers, and was a first-team 4A Narrows and All-Area selection. Graduated with a 4.0 GPA.
Nicole DeHan, Yelm, sr. — Four-year varsity letter winner in softball and first-team 4A Narrows selection as an infielder. Two-time state competitor for the Tornados.
Rachel Wofford, Capital, sr. — Tallied 25 goals, 15 assists for the Cougars on her way to an all-state selection at forward. Was also a four-year starter on the softball team and graduated with a 4.0 GPA.
Grae Hill, North Thurston, sr. — Was the 3A Narrows MVP and first-team selection on The Olympian’s All-Area girls soccer team. Second-team all-state selection at midfielder. Graduated with a 3.89 GPA.
Lindsey Goldsby, Shelton, sr. — State qualifier in track and field (800 meters) and district qualifier in cross country. Graduated with a 4.0 GPA.
Makenna Schultz, River Ridge, sr. — Holds the school’s career points record in basketball (1,992) and was an all-state selection. Was also the SPSL co-MVP and will play at Saint Martin’s University.
Joslin Lindsay, Black Hills, sr. — The Olympian’s All-Area soccer player of the year holds the school record in goals scored (78) — including 22 her senior season, with a season-high five in the first round of the 2A state playoffs. Second-team all-state selection.
Madi Crews, Centralia, sr. — Was the 2A EvCo co-MVP in basketball and averaged 13.1 points, 4.7 rebounds per game for the Tigers. Was also a first-team 2A EvCo selection as an outfielder and played soccer.
Jocelyn Glasgo, Tumwater, sr. — First-team 2A EvCo selection at pitcher, and finished league play with a 3.63 ERA and .981 fielding percentage. The ace also helped lead the T-Birds to a 2A state tournament berth.
Jessica McKay, W.F. West, sr. — Headed to Boise State to play softball despite a season-ending injury during basketball. Played in three basketball state championship games and was a member of the Bearcats’ 2015 softball state champion team. Also a first-team 2A EvCo volleyball player.
Joni Lancaster, Rochester, sr. — Four-year letter winner in soccer, basketball and softball. Was a second-team all-state selection at midfielder, a first-team 1A EvCo selection in basketball and the league’s offensive co-MVP in softball.
Peyton Elliott, Elma, jr. — Three-time varsity letter winner in soccer, basketball and softball. First-team 1A EvCo selection in soccer and softball.
Morgan Masters, Tenino, sr. — Fanned 79 batters for the Beavers’ softball team, and was a first-team 1A EvCo selection in volleyball. Graduated with a 3.83 GPA.
Heidi Sowers, Northwest Christian, jr. — The 2B state champion in the 300-meter hurdles, and took second in the triple jump. Also a first-team 2B Pacific selection in volleyball and a second-team selection in basketball. Carries a 4.0 GPA.
Peyton Dungan, Rainier, sr. — Two-time 2B state champion in the shot put (four-time state placer), and three-time state placer in the discus. First-team 2B Pacific selection in basketball, and averaged 12.7 points, 17.7 rebounds per game. Also played volleyball.
Lauren Smith: email@example.com