This spring dozens of high school football players in our area will move on to play in college on a scholarship. Few of those journeys can compare to what Har-Ber's Jerry Wood has gone through. Wood is going to Ottawa University and he’s the first person in his family to ever go to college. All his life he's been told he can never get a college scholarship.
“Growing up I never thought I'd be where I am,” said Jerry Wood. “It never really crossed my mind that I'd be able to play after high school.”
After his junior season at Springdale, Wood transferred to Har-Ber. That's when everything changed.
“What Jerry did was, Jerry made plays,” said Har-Ber coach Chris Wood. “That's what was impressive about him was every week he was in on the action.”
As a safety Wood led the team in tackles and interceptions. But even then, he almost never made it to college. Jennifer Baker is a teacher at Springdale. Jerry's junior year she caught a glaring mistake. He wasn't on course to be eligible.
“Some kids have the mindset of 'I'm only able to do this,'” said Jennifer Baker. “Sometimes an adult comes in and says 'No you can do more than that. You can open this door.'”
For Wood that door never seemed openable. He never got to meet his father. He died of brain cancer when Wood was three months old. Every Thursday before games Wood went to the cemetery to dedicate it to his dad.
“I'd zone in and out of plays and I'd feel someone out there with me on the field,” said Wood. “I'd feel that is him and God.”
Earlier in February Wood’s mother Angela was remarried to a man named Dwayne Butler. The wedding had to be at the Northwest Regional Hosptial in Springdale. Butler had suddenly suffered a stroke and a heart attack. Jerry Wood was the best man.
“I'm proud of the fact he's standing up and doing what he never though he could do,” said Wood’s mom Angela Butler. “And to see someone actually fulfill their dreams, there are no words that can explain that. You can't explain how proud you are of a child that is going after that because sky’s the limit.”
“I can tell me playing college football is me living out the dream she never got to finish,” said Wood.
It’s a dream that, no matter how much adversity someone faces, anybody, if they try hard enough, can do it.
“To me, being able to play college football, it's a wonderful thing.”