Murray Woody is excited to be back closer to home.
After spending one year as basketball coach at Ethel High School, Woody is gearing up for a return to the sidelines as girls basketball coach at West Point High.
In June, Woody, who is from Caledonia and lives in Columbus with his wife and two children, accepted a teaching position and a job as assistant boys basketball coach and junior high football coach at West Point High. Jemmye Ann Helms” resignation as West Point High”s girls basketball created a position that remained open for a time until the West Point High Principal Mario Willis and athletic director Chris Chambless looked at the coaches already on staff and decided to ask Woody if he was interested.
“I am not going to change a whole lot from what I do,” Woody said. “Coach Helms had a good thing going. I may come in and tweak things here and there, but, for the most part, I am going to keep things the way they are.”
Woody said he hasn”t met any of the players he will coach, but he knows Helms and feels he will inherit a strong program. He will have to find a replacement for point guard Kelsei Ewings, The Dispatch”s Large Schools Girls Basketball Player of the Year. Ewings led the Lady Green Wave to a district title and a 20-5 record this past season. She will attend the University of North Carolina A&T later this year.
Woody spent four years as boys basketball coach at Montgomery County High. He spent a year and a half of that time overseas in Iraq. He then moved to Hamilton High, where he spent three seasons as girls basketball coach. He also worked with former Hamilton High fast-pitch softball coach Jason Cobb as an assistant coach.
Woody then took a job at Ethel and enjoyed his experience at the school. But he said his inability to sell his house made it difficult on him and his son to make the 86-mile commute. The distance put a strain on his family life, so he wanted to find a job closer to home.
Woody will teach U.S. History at West Point High. He also is working on his master”s degree in educational leadership at Mississippi University for Women. He hopes to use that degree one day to get into administration.
That move will have to wait, though, because Woody said he still has a few more years of coaching in him. He is excited to have a chance to focus on a reduced teaching and coaching load.
Chambless said West Point is fortunate it already had someone as qualified as Woody on staff and was able to move him into Helms” old job. Helms is now an assistant principal at the school.
“He has had some success at every place he has been, he has a good background athletically and academically, and everybody I talked to he came highly recommended,” Chambless said. “We had one right up under our nose and we were searching all over for someone capable of doing it. Luckily for us he was willing and able to do it. After talking to him we felt he was the right person for the job.”
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.