Senior Wood makes All-Region 6AAAAA First Team volleyball


Katie Dwyer

Senior Katie Wood sets up a serve in a home game against Paideia on Sept. 20. Wood made the All-Region 6AAAAA First Team this year for the second time.

Elias Podber, Sports Managing Editor

Senior volleyball player Katie Wood made the All-Region 6AAAAA first team this year for the second time. Wood received the award after the volleyball team went 10-16 this season, losing in the second round of the state playoffs to Buford.

“Our regular season didn’t go that well this year; we had a better record last year, but we played a lot tougher teams this year which made a big difference,” Wood said.

Some of those tougher teams include Westminster, Riverwood and Decatur. Westminster was ranked 13th in the state in Class AAA  and had a record of 34-11, Riverwood, a region opponent, went 25-9 and was undefeated in the region, and Decatur, also a region foe, went 32-13.

“We didn’t do as well as we wanted to, but it was still fun,” Wood said.

Individually, Wood thrived and was admired by teammates  and fellow senior captain, Ellie Rice.

“She’s a really good teammate. If we’re doing bad in practice, she’ll stop and talk to us and encourage us,” Rice said. “She’s always really loud which is good, communication is really good.”

Despite her personal success in volleyball, Wood has no intention of playing in college.

“I was going to [play volleyball in college], but I have this knee problem, and I also decided I don’t really want to,” Wood said.

There are many qualities demanded from a captain of any sports team, and according to Rice, Wood is not only a good athlete, but also “a really hard worker.” However, this wasn’t always the case, as Wood attributes much of her success and improvement to Grady coach, Ella Cleveland.

“My coach definitely [helped me], she is a coach at A5, which is one of the best clubs in Georgia,” Wood said. “I’ve improved the most under her, and she was really tough, but very supportive.”

Among qualities important for a captain, including determination combined and talent, Cleveland saw both in Wood.

“Katie brings a certain competitiveness to the team that I don’t see in anyone else,” Cleveland said. “You can tell she wants to win.”

Cleveland knew she Wood improve as a volleyball player, but she also knew the raw talent was there to begin with.

“When I first started coaching Katie her sophomore year, she was very hard-headed and didn’t want to listen to a word I said,” Cleveland said. “But pretty quickly, she learned that wouldn’t work. Once she got in the right mindset, her skill improved dramatically and so did her attitude. She really has matured as a player and as a person since I met her.”

Wood made the All-Region 6AAAAA First Team her sophomore year, but got injured during her junior year, which set her back and kept her from playing. The team felt her loss and noticed her presence as soon as she returned this year.

“When people watch her play, they automatically know she plays club,” Cleveland said. “Her presence and skill on the court speak for itself.”

Teammates agree that Wood brings a valuable skill set to the team, distinguishing her from other players.

“She plays really hard, I can tell she’s tired sometimes, but she pushes through it,” Rice said.

Along with being a good player, Wood’s attitude extends beyond the volleyball court into her social and academic lives.

“Playing volleyball is very hard and she doesn’t give up, so that shows me who she is as a person,” Rice said.

Cleveland said Wood wasn’t coached “to depend on flashy things,” like the All-Region 6AAAAA First Team award. Wood also wasn’t expecting to receive it as the competition for a spot was tougher than usual.

“I wasn’t really expecting to [earn a spot] this year because it was six people on the First Team All-Region this year, and I was the only one who wasn’t committed to play in college, so I was actually really surprised,” Wood said.

Although Wood didn’t forecast the award, her coach and teammates knew from the beginning of the season it would happen.

“I didn’t prepare Katie to win an award; I prepared Katie to be an amazing volleyball player and the award just happened to come with it,” Cleveland said. “I coached her to be humble and how to be the amazing athlete that she is. But I am in no way surprised that she made the region team twice. She most definitely earned and deserved it.”