November 30, 2012

Double Down: Farr Balances Lacrosse, Soccer at Stanford

California native is first athlete in school history to play both sports

Editor's note: Stanford lacrosse player Hannah Farr is a member of the Cardinal women's soccer team that will play in the College Cup national semifinals against North Carolina at 8 p.m. PT Friday. Farr has played in all 22 games for Stanford as a reserve this fall. This story originally appeared online Sept. 20 and in the September issue of Lacrosse Magazine.

by Clare Lochary |

Cardinal sophomore midfielder Hannah Farr has played in each of Stanford's seven women's soccer games this fall. She will return to the lacrosse team in the spring. "I only focus on one season at a time, so I have never felt overwhelmed," Farr said.
© Gani Pinero

When Stanford women's lacrosse player Hannah Farr goes after ground balls, you can tell she plays soccer too. She's a small, shifty midfielder who appreciates the value of unsettled opportunities.

"In soccer, 50-50 balls are everything. Whoever wins the disputed balls usually controls more possession and in general, has more control of the game." Farr said. "One of my strengths in lacrosse is winning 50-50 ground balls and just being scrappy."

Farr is the first athlete in Stanford history to play both soccer and lacrosse. In 2012, she started every lacrosse game as a freshman, scored 20 goals and was a first-team All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation player. On the soccer team, Farr was a reserve midfielder who played in six games in 2011 for the NCAA champion Cardinal.

This fall, Stanford is 6-1-1 heading into its Pac-12 opener on Sunday against Arizona State. Farr has played in all seven games thus far as a reserve, registering one point.

"I really love switching back and forth from one sport to the other, because it keeps things fresh and exciting," she said. "I've done it my whole life and play both to make me better."

Farr started playing soccer as a young girl growing up in Northern California and picked up lacrosse in fifth grade. Her early lacrosse instruction came from her older brother Jack during mini-stick games they played in the backyard of their Bay Area home.

"We have a perfectly placed and surprisingly cushiony bed of ivy along the grass that I remember getting decked into countless times," she said.

At St. Ignatius (Calif.) Prep, Farr rose through ranks in soccer and lacrosse and became a legitimate NCAA Division I prospect in both sports. Soccer commitments sometimes meant missing lacrosse games, and lacrosse kept her from participating in the Olympic Development Program in soccer, usually a key step for players with college ambitions.

But Stanford lacrosse coach Amy Bokker, who played lacrosse and field hockey at William & Mary, saw in Farr a rare quality to juggle two sports at the highest level.

"Students always ask if they can do two. It depends on the person," Bokker said. "When I met Hannah, there wasn't a doubt in my mind that she'd be able to succeed at both."

Stanford women's soccer coach Paul Ratcliffe also agreed to let Farr double down. It did not hurt that she had a 4.3 grade point average in high school. Though undeclared in her major, Farr is interested in economics, Spanish and a future profession in sports reporting. She has the highest GPA among Cardinal lacrosse players.

The chance to stay active in both sports made Stanford a tempting prospect for Farr, as did her family's ties to the university. Both of her parents graduated from Stanford. Her brother Jack, the one who had pile-driven her into ivy so many times, currently is an MCLA All-American attackman for the Cardinal men's lacrosse team.

Plus, Farr could not give up palm trees. When she visited Northwestern and Harvard as a soccer recruit, the temperature at both campuses dipped below 20 degrees.

So Farr made the modest 20-mile trip down the California coast from Hillsborough to Palo Alto, and immediately met the demands of the nation's second-ranked soccer program. Farr joined a senior-heavy Cardinal team that had fallen in consecutive NCAA championship games.

"I have never worked so hard in my life," Farr said, "and it was so cool to see that all of that hard work truly paid off when we won the whole thing."

When Stanford eked out a 1-0 victory over Duke on Dec. 4 and finally won its first NCAA title, it marked the end of one season and the beginning of another for Farr. The structure of NCAA seasons actually made the task of juggling two sports easier than it had been in high school, where each sport seemed to come with year-round demands.

Farr simplified her multi-sport commitments: Summer and fall are for soccer; winter and spring are for lacrosse.

"People always think playing two sports must mean that I am super busy, but I only focus on one season at a time, so I have never felt overwhelmed," she said. "It was a little bittersweet to switch from one team to the other, just because I spent four months with the soccer team and those were the first people I met in college."

Despite initial lacrosse jitters, Farr made the switch beautifully. Playing on a championship-level soccer team was a fine substitute for fall ball.

"She didn't really seem like a true freshman once the games started," Bokker said. "She had felt that on-field pressure throughout soccer season."

Farr's freshman lacrosse season went a little differently than soccer. Originally ranked No. 6 in the country, Stanford dropped its first three games of the season — a notable change from the soccer team's 25-0-1 record. The home opener, an 18-6 loss to defending NCAA champion Northwestern, was Farr's first loss at Cagan Stadium.

"You never want to start a season like that. It'd be so frustrated, but I told myself you've got to keep playing," she said. "Losses aren't the end of the season, or the end of the world."

The Cardinal's up-and-down 2012 season ended with an 8-10 record and a 13-10 loss in the MPSF championship game to Oregon. For 2013, Farr wants to be more of a leader on the lacrosse field, help Stanford win back the conference championship and ride its automatic qualifier back to the NCAA tournament.

But even as lacrosse returns to college campuses in the form of fall ball — including the US Lacrosse Stars & Stripes weekend at Stanford in October — Farr won't pick up a stick for months. And she'll be better for it. Summer and fall are for soccer.

A version of this article appears in the September issue of Lacrosse Magazine, the flagship publication of US Lacrosse. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 400,000-plus members today to start your subscription.

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