Senior Libby Graf talks about being a third-generation letterman at Ohio State
by Leah Abouahmed, Ohio State Athletics Communications
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Libby Graf, a senior on the Ohio State women’s lacrosse team, will graduate in June and leave a program rich in history and tradition. Graf also will leave behind her own footprints in a family legacy that stretches 97 years.
Her great-grandfather Campbell Graf, who went by the nickname Honus, played football, basketball and baseball for the Scarlet and Gray from 1912-15. Campbell was a starting fullback on the football team, a starting guard in basketball and a starting outfielder on the baseball team. He earned a total of nine letters during his athletic career at Ohio State and was inducted into the Varsity “O” Hall of Fame in 1987.
Campbell’s son and Libby’s grandfather, Jack Graf, was a member of the 1988 Varsity “O” Hall of Fame class. He played basketball and football from 1939-41. Jack was voted the football team’s MVP in 1941 as he led the Buckeyes in scoring and rushing. That same year, Jack served as a captain of the basketball team. In 1943, he ventured into coaching as an Ohio State assistant basketball coach, a career that he would stretch into 26-years. During that time, the Buckeyes won a National Championship, nine Big Ten titles and appeared in eight NCAA tournaments.
With a family history deeply-rooted in Ohio State athletics, Libby appreciates the opportunity she has had as a captain of a Buckeye squad of her own and the advice her grandfather continues to give her to this day.
“I’m a captain now and being a third generation captain is huge,” Libby said. “I grew up admiring my grandfather and great-grandfather’s letterman blankets and jackets and now I have my own. It’s really cool to share that and compare stories with my grandfather.”
The Buckeyes, who are 9-3 on the season as they head into the weekend, play host to conference-foe Vanderbilt (8-3) Sunday. This will be Libby’s last home game.
“The positivity on this team is great,” Libby said. “I’m so happy it’s my senior year and it’s happening like this. The last couple years haven’t been the best with the program, but so far our season has amazing.”
In 2009, Ohio State opened the season with a 9-1 record, the best by any Buckeye squad in program history. The Scarlet and Gray’s three losses have come to the likes of Maryland, North Carolina and Notre Dame, all ranked in the country’s Top 11. Even in its losses, Ohio State kept within the reach of earning a win as its opponents only averaged a 1.6 goals against advantage.
Libby started playing lacrosse when she was in seventh grade, while also playing basketball and soccer. She picked up the sport because her middle school needed some extra people to play and she quickly fell in love with the sport.
Since her high school was not well-known for its sports, she never dreamed she would be playing at the collegiate level. She participated in a few tournaments during high school and received letters from some smaller Division I and Division II schools, but Libby wanted a big school.
During her senior year of high school, Libby played in a tournament at Ohio State. The next day, Sue Stimmel, Ohio State women’s lacrosse head coach, called and told her that the Buckeyes wanted to start recruiting her.
“I wasn’t planning on going to a school in Ohio,” Libby said. “But after Sue called, I started weighing my options about playing lacrosse and what the benefits would be of being a Division I athlete. Looking at my family history at Ohio State in sports, I couldn’t pass this up. Now, I’ve played all four years and I love it.”
Libby grew up a Buckeye fan, attending football games in a baby carrier, and now her career for the Scarlet and Gray will soon come to a close. But as the youngest of the Graf family to leave her own sports legacy, it is safe to say, you can take the athlete out of Ohio State, but you can’t take Ohio State out of the athlete.