West Forsyth senior Sarah Grady is called “Tiny” on the Lady Wolverines’ girls lacrosse team, and it fits the diminutive attacker. She is 5-foot-1, always out-matched by defenders in size.
But, at times, the nickname also described the confidence of the player who leads West’s top 10-ranked team vying for its fourth straight Forsyth Cup.
After her sophomore season, Grady was invited to try out for the Georgia Women’s National Team that would compete against teams from across the country in the U.S. Lacrosse Women’s National Tournament. There were players from state powerhouse programs like Milton, Walton and Westminster, and Grady wondered if she, in just her third year ever playing the sport, belonged.
“I had to meet their level to even get playing time,” Grady said.
But Grady made the team, getting to participate in two practices and six games with the best talent in the state.
“I got a lot better,” Grady said.
After her junior season, Grady was invited by Florida Southern, a Division II women’s lacrosse program in Lakeland, Florida, to participate in a clinic for prospective recruits with about 20 other players. Grady had worked hard for the opportunity. She had made a highlight tape and spent months emailing college coaches, hoping to get interest and possibly a scholarship offer. Here was her chance.
“Such high pressure,” Grady said.
But Grady shined. Florida Southern’s coaches emailed her immediately after the clinic to offer a scholarship, and Grady committed, eventually signing with the Mocs this past November.
“I loved their coaches, loved their campus,” Grady said. “I got to meet all the other recruits, and I just fell in love with the whole thing.”
Now, there’s no question Grady belongs in the discussion of the county’s best players, if not at least of those most crucial to their team’s success. The Lady Wolverines’ attacker is first on the team in assists (28), groundballs (35) and draw controls (35) and second in goals (48), caused turnovers (24) and total points (78), leading West (9-1, 3-1 Area 3-AAAAAA) to another likely state playoff appearance and hopes of a deep playoff run.
Grady’s emergence in the sport and at West was gradual.
A gymnast and softball player growing up, Grady took up the sport in eighth grade when her neighbor started playing.
“He had a couple extra sticks in the garage,” Grady said. “It looked really fun, so my brother and I started playing with him. It was really fun.”
Grady came to West a year later as a goalkeeper, but she made varsity and split her time in goal and at middie. Her contributions were limited; she had nine goals, 14 draw controls and 20 groundballs.
A year later, West had graduated 11 seniors and needed Grady and a host of young talent to develop fast. Grady responded, playing middie and some attack and breaking out to score 32 goals and make the all-county team.
“I really had to step up and help fill in for those seniors that left,” Grady said. “I finally got to show and prove myself.”
Everything seemed to come together for Grady last season. She scored 58 goals, helped West win a third straight Forsyth Cup, was a first-team all-county selection and made the Georgia Women’s National Team again.
Once a lacrosse novice, it now fills her spare time. She coaches, referees and gives private lessons for young players.
For someone who once questioned her own place in the sport, she’s now helping others find theirs.
“It’s crazy to see how far I’ve come in such little time,” Grady said, “but it just goes to show hard work really pays off in the end.”