By Ralphine Major
He wore No. 10 and was a Tennessee Volunteer point guard on the men’s basketball team. From 1972 to 1975 Rodney Woods ran the point for Ray Mears. What was so unusual about Woods was the fact that he came from the Bluegrass State, one of Tennessee’s greatest rivals. Tennessee stole the sharp-shooting point guard right out from under the Wildcats! I was amazed to learn that one of Tennessee’s top three coaches came to 17 consecutive games to see the point guard play.
I paid close attention to the point guard out of Lone Jack High School because of our pastor at the time. He had recently served at a church in Middlesboro, Kentucky, before coming to Fairview in Corryton, Tennessee. The late Rev. Ralph A. Berry loved basketball. Though he was originally from North Carolina and lived several years in Kentucky, he was a huge Tennessee fan and was thrilled when the Big Orange recruited Woods out of Kentucky. I was a University of Tennessee student during that time and often picked up tickets for the Berrys to go with us to games at Stokely Athletic Center. Woods and a teammate even visited our small, rural church one Sunday morning during his time at UT. Those were exciting times for the Big Orange, and Tennessee fans had lots to cheer about in those early days. Tennessee basketball had the colorful coaching style of the late Ray Mears, the late Stu Aberdeen, and the late A. W. Davis; they had Bernard King and Ernie Grunfield, the players from New York who made up the exciting “Ernie and Bernie” duo; and they had a talented point guard from Four Mile, Kentucky, named Woods.
Woods has been coaching 45 years. The beloved coach and his teams have won over 900 games! Rodney and his wife Cynthia are parents to two daughters and three sons, and they are grandparents to five grandsons! With a family like that, Woods could start his own team. Maybe one day those five grandsons will make their way onto a team in Big Orange Country the way a talented point guard from Kentucky did so many years ago.