STANFIELD — Lorena Woods had no intention of being an athletic director when she took her first teaching job out of college, but once she started she found she had a passion for it.
Woods recently took over as athletic director at Stanfield High School and is working to serve the community and school.
“Working and serving my own community is super important to me,” said Woods, who also is dean of students. “When the opportunity came up for me to apply for the job, it was a no-brainer. Dan (Sharp) did a really good job. He really cares about the kids and Stanfield. The pandemic really did a number on Dan. He has been super helpful to me. Now he can focus on coaching. He started some good things here in Stanfield.”
Woods had stints as athletic director at Arlington and Nyssa before landing in Stanfield. For her, it’s all about relationships.
“Being an athletic director, it grew my resources for my job, but also another family for my kids,” Wood said. “They were gym rats. It’s so nice to know every kid at the school. We welcome the kids in the morning. You know their names. It adds value to our day. Your actions become their actions. You want to make sure the kids have an experience they want to cherish forever.”
Woods took over at Stanfield as the school district is going through renovations. A new middle school gym was added, the tennis courts have been resurfaced, and the school is getting a new track.
“The track will be red and nice and cushy,” Wood said. “We have two full size gyms now, which will be nice for three-way volleyball days. We also got our booster club back up and running.”
As much as improvements are exciting, Woods enjoys sharing the success on the court and on the field with her athletes and coaches.
“Going to state with the (Stanfield) girls was special,” she said. “When I was in Nyssa, the baseball and boys basketball teams went to state for the first time in many years. You want to grow those special moments.”
While the good things make the job fulfilling, there’s also the headache of scheduling, bus schedules and hiring new coaches when necessary. That’s just scratching the surface.
“It’s so much more than buses and officials,” she said. “You are the coach of coaches. If you want them to build culture and grow leaders, you have to grow leaders too. I probably have one of the youngest coaching staffs in America. I am married to the Stanfield bus dude (Kurtis Woods), so that part is easy. We have our own buses and bus drivers.”
Still a small-town girlWoods graduated from Condon High School in 1986. She played volleyball, basketball and track for the Blue Devils.
She went to college at Western Oregon State College with the intent of getting a music degree. She played clarinet and sang in the choir.
She made the switch to elementary education and never looked back.
“My first teaching job was in The Dalles,” she said. “Then I was in Sheridan, Oregon, for two years, and then landed back in Arlington. I was there for 20 years, and I coached volleyball for several years. I had no intention of being an athletic director. The position came open. I was surprised I got the job. I really didn’t want to do the job because I was still coaching at the same time.”
Woods spent more than five years as athletic director. At one point she had to write professional goals to keep her job. One was to be a league representative, then a 1A classification representative for the state, and then run for state secretary.
“One day I got a call that I should run for state secretary,” she said. “I skipped a couple of steps. I ran for it. I had no idea what that was. I lost by three votes. Two months later, the guy who won left and Bill Bowers from Springfield asked if I still wanted it. It’s a five year sentence. Secretary, treasurer, vice president, president and past president. I got to work with the best leaders in the state. I met athletic directors from all over the country, and went to the national conference three times. It was awesome.”
Woods took the athletic director job in Nyssa, but lasted just one year.
“When you move away from everything you have ever known, it’s hard,” she said. “We just needed to move back.”
In 2016, they moved back to Eastern Oregon, where Wood taught in Umatilla and Pendleton, and spent one year as a volleyball referee.
She’s also back in the boardroom as the Blue Mountain Conference representative and is filling a term as the 2A state classification representative. She’s also noticed a change in the athletic director position throughout the state.
“I’m going back to the steps I skipped the first time,” she said. “I was happy to do it. I would be at the meetings anyway. Since I left the athletic director world for a while and came back, the female population of athletic directors has increased tremendously, which is nice to see.”