The most successful coach in the history of LaFayette High School athletics received another honor to add to his impressive career Wednesday night. The school and Chambers County Board of Education celebrated coach John T. Woody by naming the court of the Dog Palace after the legendary basketball coach in a special ceremony prior to the Bulldogs’ season opening game against Smiths Station.
School officials, former players and members of the Woody family were on hand to take part in the event for the coach that brought three basketball state championships to the storied program.
Woody’s career with LaFayette included two state championships as head coach (1989, 2002), and one as an assistant (1986). He earned 435 victories as the varsity head coach, winning 65 percent of his games. Woody’s varsity teams made the playoffs an amazing 22 times in his 24 seasons and won 14 area titles. He was twice named Class 3A Coach of the Year and was named State Coach of the Year in 2002. Prior to taking over the varsity program in 1987, Woody led the b-team to an amazing 147-25 record in nine seasons, including a 53 game win streak.
Current LaFayette High boys coach Obadiah Threadgill, who took over the program after Woody’s retirement in 2011, spoke first and expressed his appreciation to the coach for the foundation he laid. “It’s an honor to be here to share this with the Woody family and the LaFayette High staff,” Threadgill said.
Chambers County Superintendent Kelli Hodge praised Woody’s career, not just as a coach, but also as an educator, mentor and community leader.
“Naming the court after someone is something the board does not take lightly,” Dr. Hodge said. “Coach Woody has gone above and beyond the call of duty in 33 years as a teacher and coach. He proved that hard work pays off and he showed the students what it looks like to be a successful adult.”
Dr. Hodge also noted that Woody continues to impact the lives of area youth by volunteering his time each summer to oversee the City of LaFayette summer basketball programs.
Former LHS standout and current Meridian Community College head basketball coach Cedric Drake spoke about the influence Woody had on him and his fellow athletes. “He taught us to be disciplined, to be accountable and to hold each other accountable,” Drake said. “No one is more worthy of this honor because of what he meant to this team, school and community.”
The always-reserved Woody stood with a big smile on his face when he was shown the court for the first time that now bears his name. “I love it,” he quietly said.
Woody began by thanking the board, LHS principal Don Turner, his family and the Bulldog fans. “Any time you do anything like this (coaching), you have to have the support of the community and people have to trust you to handle their kids,” he said. “And I appreciate you all allowing me the privilege to do this for so long. My greatest joy was seeing these players accomplish so much.
“This means a whole lot to me, and I really can’t express how much right now.”
Fittingly the night ended with the Bulldogs defeating 7A power Smiths Station in the first ever game on John T. Woody Court.