Family matters - Coeur d'Alene Press: Sports

Family matters

Former local high school players Brandon and Whitney Wood continue their passion for soccer

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Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 12:15 am

Whether on or off the soccer field, Brandon Wood has always had his little sister Whitney's best intentions in mind.

Even if it may not have seemed like it when the two were growing up in the Coeur d'Alene area.

Whitney, 19, graduated from Coeur d'Alene High in 2011 and last fall completed her first season as a midfielder at Division II Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa. She was nominated for the school's Female Athletic Freshman of the Year.

After playing at North Idaho College in 2007-08 and 08-09, Brandon, now 23, was ready to quit playing soccer entirely.

He also played for the Spokane Spiders, a USL Developmental League team, before opting to focus on work and establishing residency in Washington.

"I was kind of burnt after NIC," said Brandon, who graduated from Lake City High in 2007. "Then after I started coaching a little bit, I quickly realized I wasn't. I finished my A.A. degree at NIC and started working and I realized I missed the game."

The Spiders folded in 2010.

Whitney played all four years on the Coeur d'Alene varsity team after the family moved across town.

"It was a really tough decision," said Whitney of choosing the Vikings over the T-Wolves. "We lived across town and I switched middle schools. I liked the people and decided to give it a shot."

Without a driver's license and not wanting to have her parents drive her back and forth to Lake City, she decided to stick with the Vikings.

"It would have been really tough to do," Whitney said. "I made varsity my freshman year and it was an awesome experience."

Of watching his sister play for the Timberwolves' rival, Brandon was on the fence.

"It was all in good fun," Brandon said. "We gave each other a hard time about it. I guess our family isn't a typical family with the rivalry. We were raised in the (Lake City) part of town. I was a little disappointed she was going to the other side, but happy she did so well."

Meagan, the family's eldest daughter, played soccer at Lake City, graduating in 2004.

"Between Meagan and Brandon, we were Lake City supporters for eight years," their mother, Michele, said. "We had all of the Blue and Teal gear and all the school fight songs down. All three kids were quite happy with the schools they attended and each school seemed to fit each. Of course the kids teased one another and Meagan and Brandon gave Whitney a hard time when she chose to attend Coeur d'Alene, but all in all, the kids are very close and supportive of one another."

Often times, to improve their skills, Whitney and Brandon practiced together.

"My brother always pushed me to get better," Whitney said. "He was probably one of my biggest influences."

During one practice session, Brandon kicked a ball hard enough to fracture Whitney's wrist.

"He always took me out and pounded soccer balls at my face," Whitney said.

"We used to play in the backyard," Brandon said. "One time, I was shooting at her and she blocked it with her arm and fractured her wrist. We used to practice against each other to make each other better. She's a great little player."

Whitney started 17 of 18 games for Northwest Nazarene, with a goal and an assist.

After returning for the summer in May, Whitney saw the Spokane Shine was looking for players for its Women's Premier League team.

"I noticed that (coach Jason Quintero) was recruiting people," Whitney said. "So I asked if I could train with them to stay in soccer shape."

After a few weeks of training, Whitney was recently added to the roster.

"I've started three or four games," Whitney said. "It's been a really good experience so far."

The Shine (6-2-2) won the Northwest Division to advance to the WPSL playoff.

Whitney works in guest relations at Silverwood Theme Park and commutes to Spokane three times a week to practice with the Shine.

Brandon, who plays center midfield, just completed his junior year at NAIA Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., and will return for his senior year this fall. He was named top defensive player by his teammates for the 2011 season.

"Getting a chance to play the game again, I just love it," Brandon said.

Brandon started 16 of 17 games, scoring four goals for the Geoducks.

Brandon is spending the summer working for an area landscaping company, as well as operating Lightfoot Longboards - a skateboard company with his girlfriend, former NIC and University High player Haley Lightfoot.

On May 13, the couple welcomed a baby girl, Gemma.

"It's been excellent," Brandon said. "It's an awesome, amazing experience. Haley and I hadn't planned it, and finally after taking two years to get back into soccer, we had a curveball thrown at us. I was a little worried I wasn't able to play, but I just buckled down to make sure I could provide for us so we could keep playing soccer."

Haley also plays at Evergreen State. Getting to see each other play has been tough at times, Brandon added.

"I'm actually surprised about it," Brandon said. "At NIC, we traveled together a lot. Last year, we didn't have many games where we were able to watch. We're stretched a little thin being in Olympia."

Whitney, who is majoring in pre-med, is still unsure on her future plans, but is hoping to study abroad at some point.

"I want to go to medical school," Whitney said. "I'm still thinking about joining the Navy or Air Force. I wanted to study abroad and see if I could move somewhere for three to six years. That would be one of the steps."

In an effort to play in Australia, Whitney has spent the last two summers working as often as she can to save enough money to not only compete, but study in the country.

"I worked at Roger's and at Precision Fitness last year," Whitney said. "Part of my pay included having a personal trainer and Scott Stockwell (former Post Falls High and NIC basketball player) trained me. He really believed in me."

Even though she's playing on the Shine, Whitney often wakes up early in the morning to get in her workouts for Northwest Nazarene.

"Every day I've got to work out," Whitney said. "It's stressful sometimes to wake up at 5:30 a.m. and do my fitness and then drive to Spokane after work for practice, but it's something I love to do."

For Brandon, he's just trying to enjoy the game while he still can.

"Playing the game is a whole lot of fun," Brandon said. "I'm not in a huge rush to join the workforce quite yet."

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1 comment:

  • Close Enough posted at 8:51 am on Tue, Jul 17, 2012.

    Close Enough Posts: 134

    BWood = B.A.

    Great article. Congratulations to Whitney and Brandon on their accomplishments on & off the field.

     
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