Woodward Academy’s athletics program includes 18 varsity sports as well as prolific opportunities to try and triumph at all age levels in a wide variety of sports. We build championship teams, but winning is not everything at Woodward. We believe it’s more important for our student-athletes to build integrity and to learn self-discipline, teamwork, and leadership skills. Learn more about our program by reading our Athletic Philosophy. From intramural opportunities in third grade to Upper School athletics, we guide our student-athletes every step of the way with a dedicated staff of coaches and professionals.
Notable Athletic Achievements
- Since 2002-2003, War Eagle teams have won 32 state championships and 105 region/area championships. For the past 10 years, Woodward Academy has ranked in the final Director’s Cup standings, coming in at No. 2 in seven of those years and at No. 1 in 2011-2012. Our boys sports programs finished in first place in 2009-2010, 2010-2011, and 2011-2012.
- Our Athletic Director, Dr. Jose Fernandez, was named the Region Athletic Director of the Year for 2014-2015 by the Georgia Athletic Directors Association.
- Head Football Coach John Hunt was named the 2014 AAAA Coach of the Year by the Georgia High School Association, after leading the War Eagles to the state semifinals for the first time since 1980.
THE WAR EAGLE APPROACH TO SUCCESSFUL ATHLETIC PARTICIPATION
A Guide for the Woodward Academy Student-Athlete, Coach and Parent
The contents of this guide are designed to help establish standards of behavior and provide direction for the student-athletes, coaches, and parents during their athletic experience as Woodward War Eagles. The student-athletes’ learning and development will always be the central focus throughout all aspects of their educational experience. Woodward student-athletes have an opportunity to challenge themselves through sport and to build upon characteristics of leadership and citizenship, while cultivating teamwork, self-discipline and physical fitness.
The Woodward tradition has been to win with honor. We desire to field champions at the varsity level, but only by maintaining the integrity of our athletes, our school, and our community. At the sub-varsity levels we aim to develop champions and teach the fundamental skills of the sport in conjunction with the lessons of sportsmanship, responsibility, and teamwork.
THE COACHES’ ROLE
Woodward coaches are teachers of their sports. The professional behavior of each coach continues from the classroom to the athletic fields and courts. Woodward coaches strive to:
- Provide a safe, positive environment for all athletes.
- Communicate team goals, schedules, and expectations to players and parents.
- Possess current knowledge and skill to instruct players competently and to assess their
- Treat all athletes consistently and fairly—especially in administering consequences for failure to follow policy.
- Be positive role models on the sidelines as examples for players, parents and other coaches to follow.
- Assist and counsel athletes and parents in the college recruiting process.
THE ATHLETES’ ROLE
Young people who elect to participate in athletics at Woodward are voluntarily making a commitment to be student-athletes. This responsibility to a team, coach, school, and community assumes great responsibility, yet provides immense personal rewards.
Woodward student-athletes strive to:
- Commit to academics while fulfilling their commitment to War Eagle athletics.
- Represent their team, family, Woodward, and community in a positive manner at all times.
- Abide by the sport’s training guidelines and Woodward student handbook.
- Practice good sportsmanship at all times.
- Communicate with their coaches regarding any issues of team obligations or rules.
THE PARENTS’ ROLE
Woodward parents have an opportunity to observe their children in an athletic setting and be supportive fans of their children, team, sport, and school.
Woodward parents strive to:
- Guide their children as these students take on tasks of time management, sport-specific skill development, and responsibility.
- Support the team and coach from the stands.
- Encourage their children to communicate with the coaching staff.
- Encourage their children to commit to a team and program.
STEPS TO A SUCCESSFUL EXPERIENCE AS A WAR EAGLE ATHLETE AND PARENT
Athletics can be an emotional endeavor and occasionally conflict will arise. If you have an athletic issue concerning your student-athlete, please consider the “24 hour rule” – that is, please wait 24 hours before contacting the coach. We have found that if all parties involved with an athletic conflict take time to reflect on the situation, the ensuing conversation will be based less on emotions and more on facts. While the “24 hour rule” may not resolve your concern, it might prevent a misunderstanding from escalating into an adversarial situation.
If after 24 hours you still feel that the situation merits attention, please follow the grievance procedures listed below:
- The student-athlete should communicate concerns or issues first with the coach of that specific team.
- If the issue is not resolved from the coach/player meeting, the Head Coach of the sport, if not part of the first meeting, will meet with the coach and player.
- The parent can enter into the conversation after the second communication if the issue remains unresolved.
- The Athletic Director will be invited to join the communication/meeting if the parent, head coach, team coach, and player are not satisfied with the resolution.
- The final step to resolution of an issue will take place with the Vice President and Dean for Student Life, the Athletic Director, Head Coach, Team Coach, parent and player.
One of the primary sources for conflict in athletics is the issue of playing time. Please keep the following distinctions in mind as you consider your athlete’s experience.
Every student-athlete at the sub-varsity level, who fulfills his or her academic and team commitments, will be given the opportunity for competition playing time. The amount and time of play will always be determined by the coach, but the focus will be on developing skills and fundamentals necessary to be successful on the varsity level.
On varsity teams, there are no guarantees of playing time for any student-athletes. Playing time will be determined by the coaching staff with the focus on competing for championships. Athletes at all levels should have an expectation that their development will be evaluated and coaches will communicate areas for improvement.
For more information on eligibility, please see the Georgia High School Association participation requirements.
At Woodward, we are very proud of our Sports Medicine program. Our certified athletic trainers care for all Upper School student-athletes, evaluating injuries to determine if they can safely participate, taping and bracing to prevent injuries, and rehabilitating injured athletes in coordination with their own physicians.
In addition, athletic trainers are accessible at all practices and games to assist athletes in case of injury, and they keep records on individual athletes, their injuries, and treatments.
The full-time athletic trainers at Woodward are certified by the National Athletic Trainers’ Board of Certification, which requires them to hold a bachelor’s degree in athletic training, physical education, or a related field, and to pass a national exam administered by the board. They also possess thorough knowledge of anatomy, kinesiology, biomechanics, and physiology as well as the prevention, management, and rehabilitation of athletic injuries. In addition, our trainers are educated in nutrition, counseling, and psychology.
Meet Our Sports Medicine Staff
Gene Patterson, M.Ed., LAT, ATC, CAA
Assistant Athletic Director, Head Athletic Trainer
Mr. Patterson holds a bachelor’s degree in P.E. with an emphasis in athletic training from Iowa State University and a master’s of education in sports administration and sports management from the University of Georgia, where he served as head athletic trainer for the women’s basketball team. He also worked with high school athletes in clinical settings before joining Woodward in 2000 to expand the school’s sports medicine program.
Jordan Olson, M.S., LAT, ATC
Assistant Athletic Trainer
Mr. Olson holds a bachelor's degree in Athletic Training from Florida Gulf Coast University and a Masters of Science in Medical Science from the University of South Florida. While attending South Florida, Jordan worked as a resident for two years at Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa, FL. Prior to attending South Florida, Jordan worked as an assistant athletic trainer at Webber International University. During his time at South Florida, Jordan studied pediatric related athletic injuries with the S.M.A.R.T. Institute of USF. Jordan joined the Woodward Academy staff in 2017.
Lexus Pickett, M.S., LAT, ATC
Assistant Athletic Trainer
Lexus is from Lone Tree, Colorado and holds a bachelor's degree in Athletic Training from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. She worked as a graduate assistant at Woodward from 2017-2019 while earning her Master’s of Science in Sports Administration from Georgia State University. Lexus will transition into the role of a full-time athletic trainer with the Woodward Academy sports medicine staff in Fall 2019.
Joseph S. Wilkes, M.D.
Dr. Wilkes practices at OrthoAtlanta and is certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. He also is a member of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and is a Clinical Associate Professor at Emory University. He functions as as an orthopaedic consultant for the U.S. Luge Association and has been an associate team physician for the Atlanta Falcons. Dr. Wilkes served as coordinator of venue medical directors for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
Gary Gropper, M.D.
Team Doctor/Woodward Academy Medical Director
Dr. Gropper graduated from Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee School of Medicine. He is certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery and has served as a neurological consultant to the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta Braves. Dr. Gropper practices at Atlanta Brain and Spine Care.
Rusty Gore, M.D.
TEAM DOCTOR/Sports Neurologist
Dr. Gore is the director of the Complex Concussion Clinic at the Shepherd Center and an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. He serves as a concussion consultant for multiple regional NCAA athletic programs. He trained at Vanderbilt University and the Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Gore is certified by the American Board of Neurology and Psychiatry and he is a member of the Sports Neurology section of the American Academy of Neurology.