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Sports Commentary: A great gift

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Brookville's Woody on top of the world

By Mike Forster

  I limit my gift-giving at Christmas.  

In fact, the wife and I restrict ourselves to an agreed-upon dollar limit to be spent on one another.  Even with that firm (and meager) cap on spending, I have a hard time finding things for her.

Certainly, I don't exchange gifts with neighbors, coworkers and the like.

Nor do I bear gifts for the coaches with whom I work.

If I did, though, there's one coach who would be getting nothing from me.  His name is Jeff Woody, head coach of the Brookville football squad.

Why stiff him, of all people?  Well, it's not because of any personal animosity.  In fact, I've never found Woody to be anything but an engaging and positive person.

It's not because he's been unhelpful, either.  No, far from it.  Woody is the kind of coach who goes the extra mile to make sure we reporters have everything we might need from him.

The reason I'd not show any largesse toward the man is simple:  It is not possible to make his holiday season any brighter.

Exactly two weeks and one day before Christmas, Woody led his Bees to the State championship game, where they prevailed in a classic.  Brookville topped James Monroe by the score of 34-33.

It was the type of setting and game of which Hollywood scripts are written.  To wit:

-The game was decided on a last-minute field goal.

-The Bees were led into the game by a Brookville grad.  By the way, Woody played with the Bees on a team that lost the state championship game his senior year (1996).

-That 1996 loss came at the hands of...James Monroe.

-The setting was at Liberty University, a stone's throw from the Brookville campus.

-The Bees' star defensive lineman, Korren Kirvin, was hobbling around the sidelines on an ankle he'd broken the week before.

The only way this one could have ended was in dramatic fashion.  It did so, courtesy of the big foot of Brookville placekicker Alan Gutierrez.

"Being a product (of Brookville) and bringing home a state championship gives me a feeling of pride, just as it did all our fans at the game," said Woody.

Certainly, it's a great way to start the holiday season.

But that's not all.

A mere couple of days after celebrating New Years, Woody gets to watch Virginia Tech take on Michigan in the Sugar Bowl.

Big deal, right?  I mean even you and I (assuming our check to the cable company makes it on time) will be able to do that.

Ah, but neither you nor I will be able to lay claim to the fact that we coached two of the players that should figure prominently in that game.

Woody has.  He guided quarterback Logan Thomas and defensive end Zack McCray.

Both played on the Brookville team Woody took to that state championship game in 2008.  That team lost to none other than James Monroe in the finale.  The score:  50-46.  Another item for that Hollywood script, by the way.

"I love watching those two guys play,," Woody told me.  "The first time I saw Logan play on TV, I was a nervous wreck."

He admits he'll be anxious watching the Sugar Bowl.

My December and early January have and will feature some highlights:  a nice dinner, gatherings with friends and family and the like.

It will not feature anything remotely resembling Woody's run.

Am I envious?  Sure, who wouldn't be?

Am I jealous?  No.  Jealousy is to be directed at the undeserving.  

In Woody's case, the coach deserves everything he's gotten.  Besides, it's hard to be jealous of a guy who consults with many of his past coaches (including those from his rec league days) and points to his dad, Len, as his primary source of inspiration.

Does all of this at least put him in good stead with his wife, Celeste, who happens to also  be a Brookville grad?

After all, what better Christmas present for a Bee alum than for her hubby to guide the team to a state championship?

"She wants the bathroom painted," noted Woody of his wife's Christmas request.

As Woody is a guy who does what he says he'll do, there's no doubt that bathroom will be painted in short order.

But I'm certain there'll be no painting on the night of the Sugar Bowl.

*****

Whether your team won a state championship or had a season to forget, let not your hearts  be troubled.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or some other holiday (or none at all), here's wishing the readers of the Bedford Bulletin happiness and health in the upcoming year.

Heck, we even have those same wishes for those that don't read this newspaper.

Merry Christmas!