Less than 40 minutes into the 2013 Stanford women’s lacrosse season, midfielder Hannah Farr had already picked up two yellow cards. Farr could be forgiven for her aggressiveness, however, as she was in the process of adjusting to the more tightly regulated women’s lacrosse game after playing soccer all fall — the sophomore is the rare Stanford student-athlete who competes for the Cardinal in more than one sport.
Her coaches say that if anyone is equipped to handle the rigors of playing two sports at a collegiate level, it is Farr.
“You have to look at the individual and see if they can battle through an entire season of being in-season,” said Stanford women’s lacrosse head coach Amy Bokker. “For anyone who knows Hannah, that’s not a question — she’s a great student, a great athlete, and she’s dedicated to whatever she’s doing at that time.”
Growing up in Hillsborough, Calif., Farr thought her collegiate future would be in soccer, with lacrosse as a less-serious hobby.
“I knew since I was an eighth grader that I wanted to play Division I soccer in college, so starting sophomore year when the soccer process really started, I was fully focused on my club soccer,” Farr said. “I was playing high school lacrosse and I really enjoyed that, but I felt like I wanted to do college soccer.”
But after a strong performance at a lacrosse showcase tournament, Farr said she began hearing from college lacrosse coaches, including Bokker. Bokker helped Farr connect with Stanford women’s soccer head coach Paul Ratcliffe, and once both coaches assured Farr that she could play for their teams on the Farm, Farr was sold.
“We were really impressed with her,” Ratcliffe said, “because she had shown so much talent and drive in both sports.”
Farr appeared in six games for the women’s soccer team during its 2011 national championship season, but in the 2012 season she took on a much larger role. Farr played in 23 games, usually as one of the first substitutes off the bench as Ratcliffe often used her to inject a spark into his team’s midfield.
The midfielder made a more immediate impact on the Cardinal lacrosse squad as she scored 23 goals and was named a first team All-MPSF selection during her freshman campaign. So far in 2013, Farr has tallied 24 goals and 12 assists while chipping in with 28 draw controls and 12 ground balls as Stanford heads into the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation playoffs, which begin this Thursday with a semifinal matchup against Cal.
While at Stanford, Farr compartmentalizes her time so that she is only focused on one sport at a time. In the summer and fall, she trains “100 percent for soccer” – Farr said she literally does not pick up a lacrosse stick until the soccer season finishes. During winter break, Farr transitions into lacrosse and keeps her attention completely on that sport through the end of the season.
“She’s done a great job balancing it because she’s such a hard worker,” Ratcliffe said. “I think she gives 100 percent energy into lacrosse during lacrosse season, and then 100 percent energy into soccer when she’s with us.”
The way her schedule is set up, Farr rarely has an off-season — but she likes it that way.
“My friends who play just lacrosse or just soccer say that off-season is when you are working really hard, but you don’t have a game that weekend so it’s harder to really stay focused, whereas I always have a game to look forward to,” Farr said. “I love competing and when I have a game, it really fires me up, so I’d say that it’s awesome to play [two sports].”
Although the physical rigors can be difficult — Farr said she is “best friends” with the training staff — the sophomore also said playing two sports keeps her mentally fresh.
“I’m the type of person that is very focused on my flaws and what I can be better at in each sport,” Farr said. “[Playing two sports] lets me not think about that for a little bit and focus on an entire other sport.”
Both coaches said they allow Farr to be solely focused on the other sport during that season. As a former two-sport collegiate athlete herself — Bokker played both field hockey and lacrosse at The College of William & Mary — Bokker said her advice to Farr is to “stay focused on whatever you are doing at the time.”
According to her coaches, Farr quickly adjusts to the each sport, and her energy when she returns is a tremendous boost to both teams. Bokker said that Farr made an immediate impact on the level of competition at the lacrosse team’s practices once she joined training in January.
“She really challenges her teammates, and that was something that was super evident, especially to our freshmen.” Bokker said. “She came out and competed for every ground ball and every draw and every one-v-one, and that really elevated [our team].”
Farr said that although she gets asked all the time, she can’t decide which sport she likes better.
“I love how you can be so physical in soccer and it’s just a purely athletic sport,” Farr said. “But in lacrosse, I love how it’s more like basketball where there’s an offensive and defensive end and you’re going more one-on-one.”
Given her passion for both sports, Farr said that she plans to continue playing both all four years at Stanford. Afterward, she doesn’t know what the future will hold.
“It will be weird not playing organized sports, but that’s kind of why I’m playing two now,” Farr said. “I want to get the most out of college athletics because I think that right now, that’s the pinnacle of women’s sports.”
Contact Jana Persky at jpersky ‘at’ stanford.edu.