He was a high school standout before walking across the campus to play for the Bisons. Cooper Wood has helped maintain his family’s legacy at Lipscomb as a student, a volunteer assistant coach, and a fan. He took time this week to speak with Lipscombsports.com about his time as a student-athlete at Lipscomb.
What years did you compete for Lipscomb?
I played basketball for the Bisons and Coach Mike Clark from 1971-73. Coach (Ken) Dugan, the Director of Athletics, recruited me.
Tell us about your education.
I grew up in Green Hills and started at David Lipscomb High School as a freshman in 1966. After high school I wanted to keep playing basketball, and Coach Dugan, the Director of Athletics, recruited me to come to Lipscomb College. He was a good salesman, but he didn’t have to twist my arm very much. I entered Lipscomb College in the fall of 1970 and graduated in 1974 with a B.S. in Health & Physical Education and a minor in Science.
Why did you attend Lipscomb?
I guess I never seriously considered going anywhere else. I enjoyed four years at Lipscomb High School, I liked Coach Dugan, and I was comfortable on the campus. My parents were big Lipscomb fans, so we were regulars at Bison basketball games and I liked the atmosphere and looked up to the players. I thought once or twice about going to a bigger school, but my heart was always at Lipscomb and I’m really glad it worked out so well. Lipscomb feels like a second home to me.
What is your favorite athletic memory at Lipscomb?
The first thing that comes to mind is our rivalry with Belmont. Any time we played them it was a big deal. I also remember road trips. This may be hard to believe, but most of the road trips we took were in station wagons. The whole team would pile into two or three station wagons and take off. Most of the trips were pretty close to home, but one year we went to Florida and one of the senior players, Terry O’Donnell, drove John Buford, Clyde Whitworth and me. I didn’t think we were going to make it – his driving was not as good as his basketball.
Of all our games, the two I remember best are when Bruce Bowers scored 52 points each in back-to-back games. That was amazing. I subbed in for him and scored a bucket at the end of both games, and from then on, I reminded him that he and I combined for 54 points in consecutive games. That’s a great example of the beauty in being around a guy like that who is always a hard worker, always a great example to teammates. I had to go against him in practice, and I can’t tell you how many times I rushed out to cover him as he caught the ball and jumped ... and kept rising ... and as he shot he said, “Too late, Coop.” He’s amazing still today.
My most memorable teammate was John Buford. He was a year older than me, from Owens Cross Roads, Alabama, and we were roommates. We’ve been friends since 1971 – what is that, about 47 years? Goodness, that seems almost impossible, but we were friends from the beginning and we still talk on the phone about every other day. I had good teammates – Clyde Whitworth, Bobby Farrell, Bruce Bowers, Mark Duke, Calvin Bailey, Barry Dean, and a bunch of others.
Who influenced your athletic career at Lipscomb?
The greatest influence was my dad (Jim Wood), a former Lipscomb athlete who both motivated me and inspired me. He had physical challenges that limited him, and I think I wanted to do my best because he wasn’t able to. Even if he hadn’t said a word, he would have inspired me because I knew he loved watching me play.
Teammates also influenced me at Lipscomb. The older players – Bruce Bowers, Roy Pate, and Farrell Gean – I looked up to them as teammates and they motivated me to want the best for our team.
Coach Dugan was also an influence. Everybody knew him, and to see the command he demonstrated on a baseball field and in the athletics program was impressive.
What’s your favorite non-athletic memory from your time here?
I enjoyed the social life, that’s for sure. As a little guy from Lipscomb High, I remember being fascinated to come to a campus filled with students from all over the place. I had never been anywhere with people from what seemed like everywhere! It was eye-opening, and one of the greatest experiences a first-time college student can look forward to.
I also enjoyed chapel. We loved it because it was a time that the whole student body came together. And we always had 10-15 minutes after chapel when everybody went down the steps (from Collins Auditorium) for talking and social time together in the square before going to the next class.
Several times each year the basketball team would lead the chapel devotional, and we usually kept it pretty simple – a few scripture readings, some songs, and a prayer. The year Ricky Clark was a senior, Coach wanted him to be involved. While Ricky was a lot of fun, he was not really the most religious member of our team. But he had picked out his scripture and practiced it several times. The guys were all sitting in a row of chairs on stage, and right before Ricky’s turn, Farrell Gean read the exact same passage Ricky had prepared. Of the entire Bible, they had selected the same identical scripture, and everybody could tell it. Farrell was reading and suddenly Ricky was scrambling through his Bible to find another passage with some kind of meaning. I don’t remember what he came up with, but the story became a classic on our team.
What did you learn in your time on campus?
As I look back at it now, I think it was that period of time that I finally figured out that God is always present for us. No matter what trials or successes we’re going through, He’s there. I saw it in tough times at school, on the basketball court, and when I made dumb decisions – He was always there by my side. It took me some time to catch on, but it was a big lesson for me, and those four years on campus are when it became clear.
Who were your favorite professors?
My favorite teacher was ‘Fessor Boyce. He was a great instructor – so respectable, likeable and easy to listen to. Also, because my major was Health & P.E., I had a lot of classes with Coach (Tom) Hanvey. He was a great teacher and I loved him, but his classes were hard. I had to take anatomy and kinesiology classes that were some of the toughest on campus, but he had a way of inspiring students in the classroom. And of course, I took Coach (Ken) Dugan’s class about successful coaching. Who could have known at that time how many hours I would spend coaching in the years to come? All three of those teachers were giants to me.
What do you do now?
My career has been interesting, and I’ll probably work until the day I die. I started as a teacher at Harding Academy in Nashville, and after a 2-year stint in the family business I moved to FRA (Franklin Road Academy), and then to BGA (Battle Ground Academy) for ten years as head baseball coach, assistant basketball coach, and even a few years as head girls’ basketball coach. My dad persuaded me to join him and my younger brother, Bill, in ’93 or ’94, and I’ve sold kitchen cabinets since then. Bill and I run the company that Dad began in the late ‘70s – Jim Wood & Associates – and my son, Bennett, joined us a few years ago. We’re independent sales reps for kitchen cabinet companies, selling mainly to dealers for residential new construction and remodeling customers.
Tell us about your family:
Diane (Dunlap Wood) and I will have been married 28 years in February, and she will probably tell you it seems like 28 hundred. She’s a former Bison cheerleader, and we knew each other in school but we didn’t get together until several years later. We have four children: Brandon, Bennett (and wife, Julie), Sarah and Whitney; and three grandchildren: Waylon, Madeline, and Kayla.
- Favorite food: spaghetti
- Favorite TV show or movie: This Is Us and Survivor
- Favorite scripture: Psalm 91:4 – “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”
- Favorite sports team: Nashville Christian School girl’s basketball (ironically, the team coached by son, Brandon)
- Pet peave: people who judge only on first impressions
- Persons I most admire: my parents and my wife
- Favorite season: Spring
- Pick one – salad or dessert: salad
- Dream vacation spot: Hawaii
- Early morning or late night person? early morning
If you want to contact Cooper, you may reach him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s on Instagram (cooperwood42) and Facebook (Cooper Wood).