STRYKER — Sage Woolace has been a focal point for Stryker’s girls athletics since she was a freshman. She was put into a leadership role, especially for the Panthers’ girls basketball team (12-2, 3-0 Buckeye Border Conference), and was shy at first.
Fast forward to this season, the senior standout is thriving as a leader, has received numerous individual accolades and helped her teams succeed.
“I feel like my freshman year, I was confident in my game but I definitely was a little bit more shy and less talkative,” Woolace said. “But my sophomore, junior and senior years, I’ve definitely been more of a vocal leader on and off the court I feel like.”
“She puts in a lot of time outside of it, too, so you’re going to have more confidence when you’re putting in a lot of time and work,” Stryker girls basketball coach Conner Varner said. “She’s been a focal point since freshman year and she’s scoring 18 points a game and guarding their best player, so she added some skill sets along the way.
“She’s not just stayed the same as her freshman year. She’s grown and put in extra work.”
Woolace’s list of accomplishments is an impressive never-ending list.
In girls basketball, the 5-foot-3 star point guard was an all-Ohio special mention in Division IV last season and was named Buckeye Border Conference player of the year, an all-BBC first-team honoree for the second straight year (three-time honoree) and tabbed to the Division IV all-District 7 first team by the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association. Woolace also became the program’s fifth 1,000-point career scorer in a 48-27 BBC win over North Central on Dec. 16 at Stryker High School.
She collected over 2,000 career digs in her four-year volleyball career, snagged her third straight all-BBC first-team honor and is a three-time all-District 7 honoree. Woolace was also a two-time all-BBC honoree the last two seasons (first team in 2021, second team in 2022) in softball and a Division III regional track and field qualifier in the 400-meter relay in 2021.
“It’s really rewarding. I feel like ever since my freshman year, I knew that 1,000 points is something I wanted to do. I never knew it would actually happen,” Woolace said. “And then with the 2,000 digs, honestly I didn’t think that was ever going to happen or 1,000. But to get those accomplishments, it just made me feel like all my hard work I’ve put in has paid off and in the end and everything.”
Her incredible success comes down to a couple simple things: hard work and unselfishness.
“She’s just someone who’s going to put others first and that’s kind of what made her successful is she doesn’t put herself first. Might seem kind of backwards, but she’s always about the team and what can we do as a team, team first,” Varner said. “If someone scores more points than her or gets more rebounds than her or more steals or whatever, she’s never going to be mad after the game. It’s, ‘Did we win? Are we on top of the other team?’ And if that’s the case, she’s excited about that.
“Same thing if she has 20 points and we lose. She’s usually the last one in the locker room talking to coaches afterwards about how we can do things better. She’s just someone who puts others around her first and is working hard in whatever she chooses to do.”
Woolace doesn’t just stay busy in athletics, where she’s also active in softball (multi-year letterwinner) and is returning to track after a one-year absence. She’s a part of National Honor Society, FFA, student council and the varsity cheer team.
Woolace, who is also a star in the classroom with a 3.98 GPA, wants to attend Ohio State University and study education.
“I like staying busy. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t do sports I guess,” Woolace said. “And especially since it’s my last year, next year I’m not going to have this so I just want to put everything that I can into it.
“I have a niece and nephew and I feel like I just really love kids. And then I do mentoring as a class in high school, and so I kind of tested it out and I just feel like I’d really enjoy that. I want to do something I enjoy when I get older.”
Before she picks up her diploma, though, Woolace wants to help lead Stryker’s girls basketball team to its first conference title since 2020, showcase where hard work can take you and is thankful for her support group.
“I just want to show hard work and dedication. I feel like I’ve worked hard and been dedicated to whatever sport it is in the past four years, so that’s how I want to leave my impact,” Woolace said. “And just show the younger girls, the freshmen and stuff, to work hard every day in practice and I feel like I do that.
“... I just have really supportive friends, family, coaches, teammates. So I feel like without them, definitely the goals that I have accomplished I would not have them if I didn’t have such supportive teammates and family, especially.”