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Under new management; Woody takes reins at WPHS

July 19, 2011

Murray Woody was looking to sell his house in Columbus while commuting to Ethel where he was building a state championship contender at the 1A school.

By chance, he couldn’t find a buyer and when the West Point job came open he eagerly applied.

Now he wont have to sell, and he’ll save a little more money on gas.

Woody coached in Hamilton for three seasons, before taking the Ethel job where he led them to a 26-3 record and a South State championship, his first as a head coach.

But his connections to West Point go back to his high school days with Brian Sellers and Roger Burton, who has since left.

“They had nothing but good things to say about it, it was always a good environment,” he said. “When I first was looking for a job, I talked to Brian at church and he's the one that told me they possibly had an opening. I’ve known those guys for years and I trust them. I’ve never worked with coach (Chris) Chambless, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about him and how he’s a good person to work with. I went on a word from some friends, and it looks like its going to work out.”

Woody’s career to coaching wasn’t exactly normal. It kind of fell in his lap while he was student teaching at Caledonia and was asked to coach 7th grade boys basketball.

He went to Mississippi State and wanted to coach football, but right after he graduated in 2002, he took a shot in the dark and applied for the boys head coaching job at Montgomery County.

“It was kind of baptism by fire,” he said. “I was a first year coach and didn’t know a whole lot but I had seven seniors who were real good ball players and they helped me out a bunch.”

It was a never ending learning process for Woody who watched videos, went to clinics and talked to other coaches to get as much knowledge of the game that he could.

“If you would have asked me ten years ago if I would have been a basketball coach, I would have told you no way.”

Woody, who also serves the Unites States in the National Guard part time, missed several years because of deployment and even part of a season. With two years left to serve, he hopes he won’t have to miss any action on the court in West Point.

Woody takes over a Green Wave program that improved every season under Jemmye Ann Helms, who left the court to become an administrator within the school district.

West Point went to the playoffs the last four seasons, including last year where they went 20-5 while winning a district title.

The Lady Green Wave also hosted a Class 5A playoff game against Indianola Gentry.

“I know coach Helms has done a good job with them” Woody said. “She’s a quality person and quality coach and they’ve gotten better every year she was there. So I may not try and change a whole lot, just adapt to what they already have in place and tweak where I need to.”

Woody says he likes to play a lot of man defense, something he feels can win at the high school level if it’s taught correctly. Offensively, he likes to run the ball up the floor as fast as the kids can run it. That may be put on hold until he meets his new players next week.

Woody says he’s really excited to get the ball rolling and pick up where West Point had left off, this time go deeper in the playoffs.

“I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to coach 5A,” he said. “I thought it was too good to pass up.”

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