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Heroes & Friends - Scotti Wood

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I’m part of a mixed marriage. My husband, Dr. Bill Holda, is President of Kilgore College and while I’m very proud of him and his fine college, I will forever bleed TJC’s black and gold. TJC captured my heart early on and never let go!

My father, Wake Wood, was the boys’ basketball coach at Rivercrest High and he was a great coach, winning several championships before he retired, but he still wasn’t ready to kick back. He came out of retirement to coach again and at age 60, his team went to the state tournament where they won the state championship.

I loved basketball too. As a baby, the first ball I ever touched was a basketball and it felt right! I loved the sport and during my sophomore year in high school, we were ranked #1 and went on to finish second. The next year we won the state tournament. Coach Wagstaff was in the stands and sat next to my dad. He recruited me as only ‘Wag” could. Coach Wag told me I had a scholarship waiting for me at TJC and he encouraged me to visit. I looked at a lot of other colleges but I liked TJC. The more I looked elsewhere, the more my decision to go to TJC was validated.

My years at TJC were the best. I learned about life and I grew, studied, and played ball more than ever before. Coach Richardson was a great role model who not only taught us about basketball but taught us about honor, dignity and caring as well. Emerson said, “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying”. Coach Richardson was authentic and more than talking, he always “walked the walk”.

I wanted to coach someday and Coach showed me that it isn’t only about winning, and it’s not about using players while you need them and discarding them when you don’t. Coach Richardson and his wife, Joanne, opened their home to us and became our family. Years after, when I was coaching and he had retired, he still came to see my games.

I played for TJC from 1981-83 and I’ve never felt more connected to a school, a team, teachers, and a community. TJC was both school and family. The gym filled up for our games and everyone seemed to know and support us. After TJC, I went on scholarship to Southern Methodist University. While SMU is a prestigious, wonderful university, it couldn’t ever match that feel of connectedness we had at TJC.

Coach Wag had promised me that even though TJC was a two year school, I’d wish I could stay at TJC for all four years and he was right. Wag told my Dad, “Scotti’s a leader on our team but she never says a word because she doesn’t have to.” It was the ultimate compliment and I still get goose bumps when I’m in Wagstaff gym. TJC provides an environment that is classy, welcoming, and feels like home. It makes you want to do your best.

Although I missed TJC, I was ready for SMU. All my courses transferred and TJC’s academic rigor prepared me well. I played basketball and was surprised in 1985 to be named Southwest Conference Student Athlete of the Year, based upon both athletic and academic achievement. I graduated from SMU with a double major in mathematics and physical education.

After college, I taught math and coached for 10 years in public schools before becoming head coach at Temple College and then Kilgore College. Coaches, teachers and fellow students from my TJC family stayed in touch. Teammate and friend, Lee Ann Riley, went on scholarship to Baylor and eventually became head coach for TJC’s Lady Apaches, winning TJC’s first women’s national championship in 2000 before moving to SFA where she has been one of the nation’s top coaches. She called me to encourage me when Kilgore’s head coaching job opened, and then she proceeded to trounce me with her great TJC teams!

I’ve continued my education finishing a master’s degree, obtaining a license as a professional counselor, and I’m now working on my doctorate, but I never learned more long-lasting and life-changing lessons than during those years at TJC! I think what colleges like TJC (and Kilgore!) do best is to take a young person and help her discover who and what she can become.

TJC Hero and Friend Scotti Wood was inducted into TJC’s Sports Circle of Honor in 2009. In the spirit of the legacy established by Coach Floyd Wagstaff, individuals selected for the Circle of Honor must be much more than exceptional athletes. They must go on to distinguish themselves as exceptional human beings who have contributed to the common good. Scotti Wood is currently employed at Good Shepherd Medical Center as a Lifestyle Navigator and coach to help patients deal with issues such as obesity, weight loss, and stress. She is also finishing a doctorate in psychology with an emphasis in health and wellness.