Matt Wood has admired Cortland High athletics long before he was named the Purple Tigers’ new athletic director last week.
“Serving on the Girls’ Soccer State Committee and helping to run the state tournament has given me firsthand knowledge of the facilities and some of the staff at Cortland City Schools,” Wood said. “Each year of the tournament, I have been so impressed with these facilities and everyone involved. My trusted colleagues from the area have so many wonderful things to say about the district as well. Cortland City School District and the Cortland community clearly value athletics and the role it plays in child development.”
Wood comes to Cortland from Vestal, where he completed his administrative internship. In addition to serving on the Girls’ Soccer Committee, he serves on the Boys’ Soccer and Modified Sports Committees, and was a member of the Counseling and Guidance Advisory Committee, the Physical Education Plan Task Force, the Building Safety Committee and the Capital Project Committee.
“I believe these volunteer groups make a real difference for not only the sport, but also for the students,” Wood said. “After all, the main goal is the development of the student-athletes.”
This is Wood’s first time serving as an athletic director after 22 years as a coach, teacher and committee member. But it wasn’t just his experience that influenced the Board of Education’s decision to hire him.
“During Matt’s process with us we were drawn to his student- and people-centered approach,” Cortland Superintendent of Schools Bob Edwards said. “In his cover letter, he wrote that he wished to inspire ‘teachers and coaches to bring out the best in their students.’ This is a thought that resonates with our core beliefs that all means all. We are very excited to welcome Matt into our community of teachers and learners.”
As with any first-time or longtime athletic director, the coronavirus pandemic has thrown a wrench into Wood’s plans. With the New York State Public High School Athletic Association delaying the start of the fall season and canceling its fall championships, Wood has had to shuffle his priorities.
“Building relationships and evaluating programs cannot happen from a distance,” he said. “I need to see our student-athletes and coaches at practices and games. My focus will switch to preparing for a return to physical education classes and athletics. I am prepared to join district leaders and teachers to plan for reentry in whatever form that takes this fall.”
Wood enters the job ready to build relationshipswith those at Cortland High and the community at large.
“As an athletic director, I would like to use my 22 years of experience to help these wonderful teachers and coaches in any way I can,” Wood said. “I will be working diligently to meet staff, students, parents, youth sports leaders, and other community members to gain valuable insight. A great deal of my time over the next three sports seasons will also be spent observing and evaluating programs to determine ways to provide support.”