Linfield Wildcats

Wildcat Spotlight

February 15, 2017
Nothing Less Than 100%
The world of sports is defined by surprises and inconsistency - even the most consistent teams and players have their mishaps. Upsets and dramatic finishes to games and races are what attract millions of people to watch them year after year.
Unfortunately, some surprises present themselves in agonizing ways.
Sports force athletes to subject their bodies to excruciating tests which can ultimately end in injuries.
Linfield basketball player Matt  Woods is a case in point.
As a freshman, the athletic center quickly found himself playing a key role for the Wildcats. His sophomore year turned out entirely different when he was forced to the bench by a season-ending elbow injury.
During an exhibition game against Chemeketa Community College, Woods, then a freshman, went up for a dunk but met Chemeketa's defense in the key and was sent hard to the floor. The harsh landing dislocated his elbow.
Convinced that the injury was only minor, Woods continued to play the entire season. But by the end of the schedule, it was apparent the injury was far more severe, requiring surgery to mend the damage.
The bad news continued as Woods found out that he would be forced to miss the 2015-16 season - the first basketball campaign Woods wouldn't be on the floor since starting the sport in second grade.
“The hardest part about the injury was once I finally figured out what was wrong, it was so late that the recovery time was going to push me through the next season. If I had known right away, I could have had surgery fairly soon after the season and then been back for the next season,” he says with a sense of regret.
Woods was given the opportunity to serve a small role during his sophomore season, but made the smart decision to focus instead on recovery. Says Woods, “It was tough. The doctor was telling me I could play, but I couldn't go 100 percent and that's not who I am. If I am going to be out there playing, I am going to be cleared to go 100 percent.”
By the time he was cleared to play, there was only a month and half left in the season. With the season nearing a close, Woods made the decision to sit out the remaining games. He focused on making the best of the situation.
Woods took to the weight room where he concentrated on heavy lifting and consistent training. The extra time in the weight room, he says, paid off.
“I used the injury as a chance to get better. I came back feeling a lot stronger than I was previously.”
A season removed from any playing time, the junior faced adversity early in his return to the team. “This year has been a real weird year for me. Coming in this year, it didn't feel like I was a returner. There are only a few guys who were here when I played my freshman year. I am a junior but only came into the season with as much playing time as some of the sophomores.”
Teammate Negasi  Hart is one of those sophomores who witnessed Woods' injury last year. Hart appreciates the veteran leadership Woods brings to practices and games. “Matt is vocal and always is looking to bring the best out of each player.”
On the court, Woods' physical playing style has been a great asset for the Wildcats. With enthusiasm Hart says “It's always fun to play with a player as athletically explosive as him.”
The explosiveness Hart talks about is a testament to Woods' hard work and dedication throughout the recovery process. His dedication has paid off in playing time. Starting 15 of 19 games, Woods has been one of the Wildcats' most consistent players this winter.
Woods' one-year hiatus from basketball gave him time to focus on another one of his interests: raising show cows.
The exercise science major is planning to enter a physical therapy graduate program and eventually become a physical therapist. He intends to use his career as a platform to support his hobby of raising quality show cows.
Now that Woods is back on the court, his primary objective is helping his team in every way he can.
Mason  Rodby, who shares the front court with the 6-foot-6 Coos Bay native, has nothing but respect for his teammate, saying “Matt is a good teammate and works hard. It's nice having him back out there this year after his injury. He brings a lot of athleticism and ability to our team.”
Asked how he thinks he helps the team, Woods is quick to flip the conversation around. “I wouldn't say anything about myself. We have a great group of guys, doing great things - we already passed our win total from last year. It has been great to watch the improvements of everybody. The success we have been having is really attributed to everyone buying in and getting along. I just try to stay positive with the guys and keep them engaged.”
Though Woods is modest, it is hard to imagine the Wildcats' success not being aided by his contributions.
With the regular season drawing to a close and Linfield knocking on the door of a NWC playoff berth, Woods' athletic style should continue to cause havoc for opponents.
– Liam Pickhardt '20
Action Image
Matt Woods
Interested in career as a physical therapist