For over two decades, George Woods has impacted the lives of thousands of children through coaching youth sports in the northwest Georgia and Chattanooga area. Now he is being honored for his work as a 2023 inductee in the Rome Elite Sports Youth Hall of Fame. Woods currently serves as the director of sports and facilities for Dalton Public Schools.
Woods says it an honor to have his work recognized by a regional entity. “It’s been great to have a lot of my former players call me and tell me I affected their life. I’m definitely going to the induction. It’s gratifying and motivates me to be even better at my job. I want to thank Rome Elite Sports as well as all the great players I’ve been fortunate enough to coach and their families for supporting the Dalton program.”
Woods got his coaching start when his oldest son, Brett, began playing football at seven-years-old. Recognizing that he was super-competitive and wanted to be involved with coaching, Woods signed on to coach a youth football team at the Dalton Parks and Recreation Department. The team was very successful winning a championship and progressing on to the all-stars. At the same time, he was coaching a youth travel softball team that included his daughter, Destinee. The players, Woods said, started playing together at a young age but grew up to play on several different high schools in their regular seasons.
“Those girls were part of winning softball programs like the Northwest High team that won a state championship and the Dalton High School team that had a Sweet 16 finish at the state tournament.”
He says he learned a lot from the coaching experiences with his kids and realized his passion for coaching youth. He started organizing youth sports associations (Dalton Cats), creating travel ball teams for football, baseball, and softball. Then he got involved in wrestling and was a big part of a youth wrestling club called Grind House Wrestling, where the players won two state youth-level championships and were nationally ranked. The club continues its success today.
Woods said he formed a football league in Chattanooga to provide more opportunities for players.
“I formed a football league in Chattanooga called Battleground that was more competitive. We created a board and took all the pillars of the inner-city football community and came together and created a football league that was more competitive. It got our kids up to speed to play football at a higher level.”
“Once I did that, I really started seeing my passion for football and coaching and how I was affecting lives. My wife, Melisha Woods, and I would be traveling with kids to play games and we could see that we were impacting lives. The main thing that made me want to be in this position, is that I knew I was supposed to be a coach full-time and I wasn’t able to make it my career yet.”
Woods spent 20 years in a successful career in the carpet industry. When the position opened up at Dalton Public Schools in 2021, the third-generation Catamount knew this was the opportunity he had been looking for. He pitched the idea to move the middle school football program to the GMSAA (Georgia Middle School Athletic Association) to increase the competition and enhance the program even though that meant they would have to play on Saturday mornings.
“I knew if we wanted to build elite teams, we had to play elite programs,” Woods says. “In our first year, we had a state championship team and a state runner-up. We now have 128 players on our teams. It’s been a blessing for me, and I get to do something I love every day.”
Among his many duties as director of athletic development and facilities, Woods works to expand and enhance the extracurricular opportunities for students within the district, including at the elementary level. He’s worked on expanding programs at the elementary level to increase participation by finding coaches and recruiting students for cheerleading, lacrosse, wrestling, and basketball.
“I want students to know there’s more to school than just coming to school and going home. I help kids find their passion. I developed a program called “Enjoy the Ride” and I go to every elementary school and help students find what they like to do and help them build passion for their interests and the interests of their fellow students. I’m helping them connect the dots and build relationships between each other. I want kids to get to know each other and support each other in their own interests.”
Woods also works to create alignment between the elementary, middle, junior high and high school sports program. He serves as a liaison to school principals and athletic directors across the district to increase participation and support extracurricular development. He also serves as the district liaison with the Dalton Parks and Recreation Department to help gets kids involved in their programs as well. His other responsibilities include handling athletic facility contracts for use of The Dalton Stadium and helping with leases of other athletic fields and facilities.
Woods, and his wife, Melisha, have five children, Brett, Destinee Evans, Jantzen Calvo, Stryker and Caine.
The Rome Elite Sports Youth Hall of Fame started in 2020 and recognizes people that have made an impact on youth through sports in the Northwest Georgia area. The 2023 inductees will be recognized Sunday, November 19 at Gordon Central High School.