Female Athlete of the Year: Lacrosse’s Ida Farinholt

From tearing her ACL to tearing up the field, senior captain and midfielder Ida Farinholt has left a legacy on Cornell women’s lacrosse that transcends far beyond the realm of the field.

The Richmond, Virginia native got her start in lacrosse at a young age, inspired by her two older brothers, but didn’t make the fortuitous decision to play for the Red until relatively late in the game.

“Junior year [of high school] I wasn’t even looking at Cornell,” Farinholt said. “But I went to a tournament in Florida and [head coach Jenny Graap ’86] contacted me, and I thought ‘why not try?’ Meeting the team made me decide to come, and the offer was hard to decline with the academics.”

Though she was able to make an immediate impact with her athleticism as a freshman, averaging over a point per game, Farinholt’s rare misfortune of tearing the same ACL in back-to-back seasons cut both her freshman and sophomore seasons short.

Undeterred, Farinholt put her nose to the grindstone to become an integral part of the 2017 team that won the Ivy League title, advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament and finished the season ranked No. 11 nationally.

Her hard work paid off as she was the team’s top athlete in the weight room this season, earning herself a spot on the coveted Wall of Honor.

“Having to sit out of two seasons was tough,” Farinholt said. “But it taught me a lot of lessons about resilience and being a team leader in a different way — not on the field, but on the sideline, and in the locker room and weight room. I learned to be patient and wait for my time to work hard and get back on the field.”

Farinholt’s hard work on her strength and power translated to the field as she rounded out her senior season ranked third on the team in both points (30) and goals (25), and first for all midfielders in both categories.

Displaying immense composure under pressure, Farinholt was also instrumental in the team’s two overtime wins this season — tying up the game against Colgate and scoring the game winner in double overtime against UMass.

As impressive as Farinholt is on paper, it is the qualities that are harder to quantify that truly elevate her into a league of her own.

As if the resilience and mental fortitude required to come back from consecutive season-ending injuries weren’t enough of a testament to the strength of her character, Farinholt also won the BRICK award in 2017 — a distinction regarded by Graap as “the highest honor a player in our program can achieve.”

For all her success, Farinholt remains modest — shifting the praise away from herself and onto her teammates.

“My class is very special in the fact that we started and ended with seven people,” she said. “We all stuck through injuries and other obstacles that everyone faces playing a Division I sport. Hopefully, our class became role models of how people can work hard and stick with the program.”

Whether it’s continually setting the bar higher in workouts or comforting a teammate after a tough loss, Farinholt and her determination, perseverance and humility make anyone who knows her want to be better — not just as an athlete, but as a person.

“Ida is a genuinely caring individual, and her teammates know that she will be there always,” Graap said. “She sets a strong example with her generosity of spirit and selfless attitude.”

Though Farinholt will be donning the white and Carolina blue of the Tar Heels next year as she finishes out her remaining eligibility at the University of North Carolina, the impact — both tangible and intangible — that she has left on the Red will remain indelible.

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