Nova Ward went through it all when she tore her ACL during her freshman year, causing her to miss her rookie season at Garnet Valley.
That wasn’t even the most important time she missed, though, because she had the pleasure of going through it all again at just about the worst time possible.
Ward tore the ACL in that same knee again in the summer leading into her junior year, which, as anyone who knows lacrosse can attest to, is the prime recruiting season. So it’s fair to say that Ward’s knee doesn’t have the best of timing.
“Both had different trials, but it was more difficult with my second tear because I was missing the prime recruiting year,” said Ward, a 2014 defender. “Just going to all those tournaments and getting noticed. That was definitely the toughest part. Keeping a happy front and not letting myself get down.”
But everything seemed to fall into place for Ward and she locked down a collegiate home when she committed to new Division I program Mercer.
“One hundred percent, a lot of people were definitely scared off by the injuries,” Ward said. “You know, I think they kind of thought, ‘two torn ACLs, what’s stopping it from happening here again?'”
Ward trained and rehabbed relentlessly in order to come back in time for her junior year, when she helped a young Jaguars team come within a goal of making it back to the state tournament. She’ll be a senior leader on one of Delco’s – and the state’s – best teams, but at least she doesn’t have to worry about picking a college anymore.
“I initially only knew about it because (Garnet Valley 2014 midfielder) Erica Coyne committed there,” said Ward, who plays club for the Brandywine Majors’ 2014 team. “It’s in Georgia and it’s a new program, so that kind of piqued my interest when she went there, so I started looking into it and the coach (Eve Levinson) reached out to me this summer and it went from there.”
The allure of playing for a new program definitely had a major role in Ward’s decision, too. She saw the opportunity for early playing time and couldn’t pass it up.
“It’s very, very interesting,” Ward said of playing for a new program. “It’s definitely one of the reasons why I gravitated toward it. Most go into programs and don’t see playing time their freshman year, but realistically, we’re going to be playing freshman year and helping the program create itself. It’s definitely a big attraction for me.
The opportunity to play with Coyne, in addition to Mercer’s academics, were another big boost for Ward.
“We’ve been best friends for 10 years,” said Ward, who will study pre-law, “and while it wasn’t the main factor that helped me decide, it was a big plus. Especially since it’s 15 hours from home and it’s a smaller school and we don’t know anyone. I did want to get far away and it’s probably one of the closest schools I was looking at.”
Sounds weird, but when your other options are Davidson, Stanford and UC-Davis (where former Garnet Valley coach Kate Henwood runs the show), Mercer can seem kind of close. But the combination of distance, facilities and academics sealed the deal for Ward.
“They have their own law school there, so if you do well in undergrad, you’re guaranteed a spot in the law school,” Ward said. “While I may not end up going to law school there, it’s a great backup. When I stepped on campus, I was amazed that a relatively small school could incorporate everything that I loved from the other schools I looked at. There’s a great atmosphere and the school got a bunch of money pumped into it. There’s a revamped football team – I think it’s the first time in 75 years that they’re having football, so that creates some really big hype.”
Seems like the perfect fit.
Ward is the 22nd Delco 2014 public verbal and the seventh from Garnet Valley, joining Coyne, All-Delco Haley Warden, Dana Davis, Paige Mitros, Molly Savage and Katie Stec. The entire list of Delco college commitments can be found here.
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