WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Dave Wood's run as the West Lafayette boys basketball coach will come to an end this year. After 27 years on the job as a coach and teacher at West Side, Wood plans to retire from both his roles at the end of the academic calendar.
"I have never not wanted to come to this building," said Wood.
It's simple yet powerful, and a testament to Wood's commitment in giving back to his community.
Wood's basketball careers, both as a player and coach, have taken him all over the Midwest. He played three sports at Pike High School in Indianapolis, and did the same at the University of Indianapolis, where he would later spend seven years coaching.
Stops at Purdue University, Lafayette Jeff High School, Toledo University and Pike High School followed. Wood then took the head boys basketball job in 1994, and the rest is history.
"My practice schedule today looks nothing like it did in 1994," said Wood with a laugh.
It's a career that's spanned generations of West Lafayette students and athletes alike.
"I’ve never seen a basketball game at West Lafayette that he wasn’t coaching," said West Lafayette senior forward Sam Schott.
Over the course of his nearly three decades as the head coach, Wood's teams have compiled more than 300 wins and 8 sectional titles.
"If there are any legends at West Lafayette, it’s Coach Wood." said West Side senior forward Colin Martin.
Martin isn't the only player, past or present, who carries that same sentiment.
Dozens of players gathered at Berberian Gymnasium before West Lafayette's contest with Lebanon this season to honor their former coach.
"That was a surprise, I didn’t know any of that was happening," said Wood, who was given a plaque at the game by State Senator Ron Alting.
"The best part of this job, is watching my kids grow up," said Wood.
Wood is known as more than just a coach. His impact reaches beyond the court and into the hallways and classrooms at West Side. For the last ten years he's had his own room in the lower level of the school building on Grant Street. Room G519, where Wood teaches physical education.
"It’s not just basketball coach, it’s not just teacher," said Schott. "He's just an overall great person."
It's no wonder West Lafayette sophomore guard Braeden Shrewsberry said, "he never has bad days." That, even after Wood contracted COVID-19 this year, a virus he's still getting over, compiled with several pauses in all team activities due to quarantines.
Wood will go down in the history books as one of Greater Lafayette, and Tippecanoe County's all-time greats. He and his team will start its pursuit of a ninth sectional title Wednesday night in the Twin Lakes sectional against a talented Western team.
For 27 years, Wood's top priority was never about the wins or the championships though. It was about the every day interaction with his players and students.
"I will miss these kids. No question," said Wood.