By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Eddie Wood started helping with Southern Alamance’s baseball program more than 30 years ago. He just never left.
He has been a presence around the Patriots for multiple generations of players going through the school.
Wood will be entrenched in the school’s history in another way as a member of the next class in the Southern Alamance Athletic Hall of Fame. He has been an assistant coach lending a helping hand.
“I didn’t do it for me,” Wood said. “I did it for the kids.”
Induction weekend is coming up, with the newest class to be honored at a reception and recognized at Friday night’s football game when the Patriots take on Western Alamance and then inducted during Saturday’s banquet.
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Others in the class are multi-sport athlete Eric Blackwell, state champion wrestlers Tony DeAngelo and Joey Moon, former principal Teresa Faucette and the 1992 baseball team.
Wood, a 1965 Southern graduate, didn’t play baseball in high school because he had chores on the family farm. But he played plenty of baseball as a youth and embraced the sport.
He went to work for Lorillard in Greensboro and later for Webco in Burlington. All along, he carved out time for Southern baseball.
The coaching connection began at the middle school level in the 1980s. That led to a spot on high school coach James Matanzo’s staff by the early 1990s.
“I guarantee there’s nobody who has seen more Southern Alamance baseball games,” said Jason Smith, the current Southern coach.
Matanzo and Smith have been the only head coaches during all those years. Wood retired from full-time work 20 years ago.
“You got to keep moving,” he said. “I really enjoy being around the kids. You’ve got to get kids motivated to want to play.”
Wood, 77, no longer coaches first base to stay out of the way of line drives. “I just kind of hang out in the dugout,” he said.
He has been in the dugout when the fathers of some recent Southern players were in uniform.
Wood’s wife, Kay, died in May after 55 years of marriage. They had sons James and Michael.
“She loved ball just as good as I do,” Eddie Wood said.
When he’s not at the ball field, he spends many of his days rabbit hunting. He often travels to Virginia for that activity.
Wood was around for the 1992 baseball team, which finished as the Class 3-A state runner-up to West Henderson.
Blackwell was a football standout in the late 1990s through 2001 for the Patriots.
DeAngelo and Moon were connected in many ways. They won back-to-back individual Class 4-A state titles in 2011 and 2012. They were in adjacent weight classes, creating a power-pack part in the middle of Southern’s lineup. They both went on to Division I college careers.