Gia Woodfolk doesn’t mind competition. She thrives on it.
The St. Anne’s-Belfield standout will get a chance to test her mettle at the next level after she recently committed to play soccer at the University of Missouri.
“I was looking for a highly competitive soccer program, as well as a top journalism school,” Woodfolk said. “When I visited Mizzou, I fell in love with the school. The campus is beautiful and the team, culture and coaches were a great fit for me.”
Woodfolk has been a fixture in the Saints’ varsity soccer program for the past two seasons as a midfielder and defender. Last spring, she scored a team-high eight goals and added four assists as STAB reached the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division I state semifinals.
A co-captain as a sophomore, Woodfolk earned League of Independent Schools and all-state honors. She was also a standout performer on the travel club circuit with Richmond United Soccer Club in the Elite Clubs National League.
“I’ve been playing soccer since I was 7 and I’ve always dreamed of playing in college,” Woodfolk said. “This opportunity will allow me to challenge myself in ways that I’ve never been challenged before, both on the field and in the classroom. I’m very competitive by nature and this has always been my motivation.”
Woodfolk made the trip to Columbia earlier this year and was impressed with everything the program had to offer.
“From the moment I stepped on campus, I knew that I wanted to be a Tiger,” she said. “As well as the amazing soccer program and outstanding academics, I also wanted to be in a place that valued diversity and that is one of the key factors that set Mizzou apart. Coming from Charlottesville, it was really important that I attend a larger school so that I could have exposure to different people from all walks of life.”
The STAB standout formed a strong relationship with Coach Bryan Blitz and his staff.
“The coaches were great and the facilities and the support that you’re given to develop individually as a student athlete is unrivaled,” Woodfolk said. “It was really important to me that the program I chose would allow me to succeed in the classroom, while playing soccer at the highest level.”
She was recruited to play center back for Tigers, but is flexible enough to play anywhere she’s needed.
“Heading into the next level, I want to be able to make an impact at Mizzou soccer right away,” Woodfolk said. “I know that how I prepare over the next couple of years will be really crucial in reaching this goal.”
Off the field, Woodfolk’s goals are just as high.
“Right now, I’m really interested in journalism as a major, but I’m also considering law in the future,” she said. “Mizzou has the resources for me to explore both these options.”
Regardless of which field she chooses, her main focus would be a career in dealing with humanitarian issues, whether through media or law.
Woodfolk said she had offers from a number of programs, but said Missouri was the only one that was the “complete package” for her.
“It’s been quite a journey to get to this point,” Woodfolk said. “I’ve visited many schools and met a lot of people along the way. Yes, I feel relieved, but more than that, I’m just happy that I’ve found a place that feels like the right choice.”
With her college choice decided, Woodfolk said she can now focus her attention on her work on her club and school programs.
“My goals for this season are to keep improving as a player and for my team to make the national playoffs as one of the top teams in the ECNL,” she said. “Richmond United has been key in developing me as a player and giving me the opportunity to play at the next level through its highly competitive training environment and college exposure. I’m especially thankful to my coach, Aaron Brunner, for pushing me out of my comfort zone and teaching me how to compete at a very high level.”
Woodfolk said this whole process will be something she won’t soon forget.
“To play D1 soccer at the highest level is a dream come true,” Woodfolk said. “I’m so grateful to my family, coaches, friends and teammates for all their support.”