Autumn Woodard’s 2020 grind is setting up a major bounceback in 2021

2020 has been a tumultuous year for people around the globe and that rings true for Louisiana Tech star Autumn Woodard. She’s using this year to put in the work to set up a major comeback season in 2021.

Growing up near Jacksonville, Florida, Autumn Woodard started her career at the University of South Florida before transferring out of her home state and joining Louisiana Tech. “When I put myself in the transfer portal, several schools reached out to me, but Kevin Sherry was the coach that stood out the most,” she told BGN. “He was the only one to email me almost everyday to share that he needs a striker like me on his team. He was very nice and helpful to me through the whole process.”

“I finally went on an official visit and the campus was beautiful. I knew this was the right school after I saw the campus, talked to my coach, and met my teammates.”

She recalled, “Coming from the University of South Florida and only playing a total of 46 minutes was a total confidence burner. When I transferred to Louisiana Tech, my expectations were to play more than I did at USF. I would have never guessed I was going to break records after records. I did not even expect to be a starter because of all the talented players on my team.”

While she may not have guessed it, Woodard certainly did write her name all over the record books at La. Tech. In her first season with the team, she scored 17 goals and added five assists and set the school’s single-season records in points, goals, and game-winning goals. Her 39 points were tied for second-most in Conference-USA single season history and earned her C-USA First Team honors in 2019. Woodard also received the Techspy, an La. Tech award, for Female Performance of the Year.

But, this year won’t be able scoring goals and breaking records for Woodard. She explained, “This year is all about getting healthy and stronger for me. I tore my ACL and meniscus on May 26th. I am on the road to being back by February or March. My goal is to come back faster, stronger, and more of a threat.”

“I can do this by working hard in PT, listening to my doctor and my athletic trainers and keeping a positive mind.”

Off the pitch, Woodard also excels in the classroom. She was named to the Conference-USA Commissioner’s List in 2020. “It is super important to balance grades with soccer, because at the end of the day you could be a great soccer player but if you do not have the grades you can’t play and show your talent,” Autumn explained. “Everyone has great grades on the team, so I knew I did not want to be the one to bring that team GPA down.”

“I am majoring in communications. I am more on the technology side in this major because I love computers and my dad is in IT so I guess I took after him.”

In addition to her father, there’s another great role model that Woodard is able to draw inspiration and motivation from. “So, before Crystal Dunn moved to defender, she was a striker. I look up to her so much,” Autumn said. “She has such a drive and is constantly finding ways to improve as a player. She is short, fast, and muscular.”

“When I play in my games a lot of people say I play like Crystal Dunn, when I hear that it makes me really happy because I want to be just as successful as she is on and off the field.”

Photo Credit: LA Tech Athletic Communications

Like Autumn mentioned, Portland Thorns FC‘s Dunn is a great example to follow on and off the pitch. She’s been outspoken about her experience as a Black woman, inside and outside of soccer. That is something Woodard can relate to, especially in 2020, where systematic racism and police brutality have been on full display. She explained, “This year has definitely been an emotional roller coaster for me. It is a scary feeling to know that the color of my skin could potentially get me killed.”

“As a black female athlete I am working on educating my team, and doing that will result in uncomfortable situations, but that means they are learning and seeing what we as black people had to go through and what we are still going through.”

While soccer wasn’t on the menu for Woodard in 2020 as the Bulldogs finished 2-1 in three matches, she is interested in diving deeper into Louisiana’s highly-regarded seafood. “I am not a big seafood fan, so I have not tried any of the seafood yet,” she explained, adding that her favorite restaurant is Raising Cane’s. “My goal is to try a seafood boil with my teammates. It smells really good, so I hope it is as good as it smells.”

With all the hard work she’s put in during 2020, Autumn Woodard will be back to cooking defenses in 2021.

Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.