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A big heart on and off the field
Wood is co-winner of April's top athlete award
Bryan County Co-Athlete of the Month Brian Wood (with certificates) poses with RHHS soccer coach Wade Wright, Ross Blair of the Bryan County News and Beef "O" Brady's owner Georgia Goolsby, who also presented Wood with an award. - photo by Terry Logan

Richmond Hill High School soccer player Brian Wood is the co-winner of April’s Bryan County Athlete of the Month Award. He tied with girls soccer star Laura Nunnery who was featured last Saturday.

The Wildcat soccer team just wrapped a phenomenal season which peaked in April when their winning streak earned them the right to participate in the state playoffs. No one could be more attributed to the team’s success last month than offensive powerhouse Brian Wood.

Wood scored in every single game in April. This statistic is especially profound when you look closely to see that this includes beating teams by 2-1, 1-0 and 3-1. He finished with 14 goals and two assists for the season, which led the team.

Wood, his family and ooaches recently met at the family sports pub Beef ‘O’ Brady’s for the presentation. Wood humbly accepted his award and was quick to recognize his fellow teammates.

"It wasn’t all me," said Wood. "I’d like to thank my team. I couldn’t have had the success I had this past month without the help of players like Mitchell Doud and Ethan Vernon. I didn’t just get the ball, they had to distribute it to me, and I don’t think I would’ve gotten many goals without them. It’s an honor to receive this award and I accept it on behalf of my team as well as myself."

Ironically enough, when Wood started at RHHS, he had no prior experience in an offensive position. Head Coach Wade Wright reflected on Wood’s transition and his talent.

"Brian came to us as a freshman last year and showed extreme potential," said Wright. "I’ve been coaching a long time and when he told me that he never played up front, that he’d always played in the back, I was quite shocked because of the offensive skill he displayed. We moved him up front and that’s been a natural position for him. He has the potential to be one of the top 3 or 4 I’ve ever coached up front."

Brian’s father, Charles Wood, spoke of Brian’s immediate impact he made upon entering the soccer scene in Connecticut at the age of nine.

"He was very much a raw talent," said Charles. "He had no soccer skills or experience when he first tried out for his first year on a travel team, yet his coach picked him because of that raw talent that he saw. He had speed and he had that drive. The coach saw something in his eye that showed him he had that spark he could build something upon.

"Year after year, he has slowly become a student of the game and mastered different layers of skills, to the point now where he has developed into a very strong player," Charles continued. "I think what has helped him is the fact that he has both size and speed. That helps him to position his body into scoring position and take advantage of opportunities."

Coach Wright is confident that, despite losing 11 seniors, the team will continue their success next season. He is banking on the leadership and progression of Wood, a sophomore, to play a role in that.

"Brian’s greatest asset is the fact that he’s willing to learn," said Wright. "He doesn’t take criticism personally. He listens to it and uses it to get better. He is a coach’s player. I expect him, before he’s through at Richmond Hill, to put up some amazing statistics."

Wood hopes to run with that idea of being a "coach’s player" as he hopes to one day become a soccer coach himself.

"He has no intention to ever stop playing soccer," said his mother, Michelle Wood. "He’s looking to play in college and beyond."

"My Goal is to play soccer at Mercer," said Brian. "I’ve always liked the thought of becoming a physical education teacher and a soccer coach."

Beyond the soccer field, Brian is a star student, a guitar player and an aspiring artist. He recently traveled to Nicaragua where he did some mission work. He is currently planning another mission trip. This time he will fly to Honduras where he will undergo a building project for an underprivileged community.

"Brian likes to help people," said Michelle. "He really has a big heart and cares about others. I think we’re more proud of that than of his accomplishments in soccer."

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