HOWLAND – Stepping into this season, McDonald senior Lucia Wolford had a far different role.
The lone returning starter from the 2020-21 state runner-up squad went from a piece of a much larger puzzle to being put in the driver’s seat of the whole team.
Despite a load of question marks entering the season for the Blue Devils, Wolford helped guide McDonald to its fourth-straight district finals appearance and a 15-10 record.
While her new role was an adjustment early, Wolford took the scoring reins of the team, leading them with an average of 18.3 points-per-game.
Some kids may have been disappointed in going from a state finalist team as a junior to a senior year filled with unknowns, but Wolford relished the opportunity to prove some people wrong and perform for her community.
“It was amazing,” Wolford said about her senior year. “Nobody thought we were going to get (to the district finals), nobody thought we were going to have a winning record. It was really nice to show out for our town and show everyone who doubted us what hard work can do and to never put yourself down. “
While her role on the court grew, Wolford’s off the court presence was already there. The senior was a three-time captain with the Blue Devils, dating back to her sophomore year, but she knew her role di lei as a leader was going to be more important than ever this past season.
“I’ve been a varsity captain since my sophomore year, so I’ve kind of been used to it, but knowing how I needed to step up this year, it was different,” Wolford said. “They really listened to me, all the girls, so it was really nice. Especially to know that I helped them and I was a part of making them the team they are today. “
As the season went on, the Blue Devils went from a team that, in coach Tony Matisi’s own words, just watched Wolford in action to becoming more and more involved.
“Over the last three weeks, I can see the confidence coming to each one of them,” Matisi said after McDonald’s district semifinal win over Western Reserve. “In the beginning of the year we relied on Lucy (Wolford) for everything. Four girls would stand there and watch her try.
“Then as we got going, each developed their own little bit of confidence and got their own niche for what they wanted to do.”
That progression just made the season more fun for the first-team all-district selection.
“It was definitely something that I had to get adjusted to,” she said. “We had a lot of underclassmen that didn’t have a lot of varsity experience. We had a really strong senior class the previous year, so it was about getting the girls comfortable and confident with their own abilities.
“It was really nice to see them grow throughout the season and go from where they began to where they did. It was pretty amazing to see. “
Wolford’s next step is softball season. The shortstop holds the school record for most home runs in a season (10) and will be continuing her athletic career in the sport as well. Wolford will be attending Baldwin Wallce in the fall, but before that, she has one last ride planned with the Blue Devils.
“It’s been amazing,” Wolford said of her time at McDonald. “All the people that I’ve met and have shown me what it’s like to be in a community. It’s such a tight-knit group. Everyone loves everyone. Everyone is there to support everyone and the amount of people that come out to games and you have no idea who they are, but they know everything about you. It’s just amazing. “