PHOTO BY DANIELLE PARHIZKARAN/NORTHJERSEY.COM


Ridgewood (N.J.) Star Jackie Wolak Named National Player of Year


Jackie Wolak is the kind of kid every coach dreams about coaching. The Ridgewood (N.J.) High School senior loves playing the game and being a part of a team.

Wolak was a part of a great team in 2019. Despite a heartbreaking loss to Moorestown in the New Jersey Tournament of Champions, the Maroons put up 22 wins, with the multi-talented Wolak leading the charge.

The Notre Dame-bound senior scored 79 goals to go with 42 assists, 135 draw controls, 50 caused turnovers and 106 ground balls. She finished her career, which included two seasons at Saddle River Day (N.J.), with 492 points and as the New Jersey Player of the Year.

We’ll one-up that. Wolak’s season-long dominance in all phases of the game has earned her Brine/US Lacrosse High School Girls’ National Player of the Year honors.

“She was the heart and soul of our team,” Ridgewood coach Crysti Foote said of Wolak, also the Brine/US Lacrosse Mid-Atlantic Player of the Year. “She is just so athletic and is a leader on and off the field — so dynamic on the draw circle and on the attacking end. She played defense for us and did everything for us. Being face-guarded in many games and coming up averaging however many points she had, she was a pleasure to coach all season long.”


“She was the heart and soul of our team.” — Ridgewood coach Crysti Foote


Wolak just loves to compete and have fun, and she’s still the same person who won the NFL’s Punt, Pass and Kick completion as a kid, representing the New York Jets.

She views herself as an incredibly tough, hard worker and team player with tremendous drive, not unlike her favorite pro athlete, Steph Curry of the 2019 NBA champion Golden State Warriors. Wolak loves the way he plays the game and is a team player, but also that he came from a small school and was never handed anything.

Wolak also played basketball for Ridgewood, earning all-county and all-league honors, and that same athleticism that made her successful on the hardwood helped her dominate on the lacrosse field.

“She just gets it done,” said Foote, who also starred at Notre Dame. “Every day in practice on the field, winning the draw, getting the ground balls, going to goal when we needed her to and assisting. She developed her game this season, becoming the top point scorer on the team. It wasn’t just goals. When she was double- or triple-teamed, face-guarded, she is finding the open [teammate]. She was such a playmaker, and it contributed to our success this season.”








In the game against Moorestown, Wolak got hit pretty hard to the head and had to come out, but showed resiliency exemplary of her everyday toughness.

“She was gushing blood, the most blood I’ve ever seen in my life,” Foote said. “Thought she was done and out for the game, but she comes back in the second half and did her thing. She is a tough and versatile athlete. I’m so excited for her.”

Wolak wasn’t going to allow the injury to bother her. She just wanted to be back out on the field to help her team win an important game.

“I fortunately didn’t have a concussion, and the trainer tested me, and when he told me I could go back in the second half, that’s what I did,” Wolak said. “I didn’t focus so much on it. I just wanted to be out with my team and help them win.”

Ridgewood finished ranked No. 6 in the Mid-Atlantic region and No. 11 nationally, according to the Nike/US Lacrosse rankings.


 

 
BRINE/US LACROSSE
NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
JACKIE WOLAK

School: Ridgewood (N.J.)
Year: Senior
Position: Midfield
Stats: 79 goals, 42 assists, 135 draw controls, 50 caused turnovers, 106 ground balls
Coach Crysti Foote: “She is just so athletic and is a leader on and off the field — so dynamic on the draw circle and on the attacking end. She played defense for us and did everything for us. Being face-guarded in many games and coming up averaging however many points she had, she was a pleasure to coach all season long.”


 




PHOTO BY MARCO GEORGIEV/NORTHJERSEY.COM


The game has seen tremendous growth throughout New Jersey. This year’s Under Armour All-American Lacrosse Classic included eight players from the state — including Wolak, who has always dreamed of playing in the game and representing New Jersey and Ridgewood.

“Ridgewood is a great lacrosse town,” Wolak said. “They have a lax day. It’s so awesome. Coming to Ridgewood was a great experience, and having Coach Foote was awesome. She has been really helpful, and I’ve learned so much from her. I give her so much credit. It’s been awesome. Being from New Jersey, it’s known for its lacrosse, but it’s coming along more and more every day. Ridgewood is a great town for lacrosse, and I loved my team.”

Wolak is already in South Bend, taking summer classes at Notre Dame. She is ready to begin the next chapter of her life, but also reflecting on a wonderful high school career and key moments from her senior year that she will carry with her.

“I did enjoy every minute,” she said. “It’s not always about the end goal. Obviously, the end goal is to win the championship, of course. But I appreciated every day and working hard. The little things were really important.”