By: Chelsea Davis-Bibb, Ed.D.
“Basketball saved my life. It guided me,” Coach Stephen Woods stated.
Coach Stephen Woods is the head basketball coach at Hightower High School. He grew up with his older brother in a small town called Bay City, Texas. He started playing basketball at a young age, and his dad never allowed him to play on small basketball goals. At the age of five and six, he was even playing basketball with eight and nine-year-old kids. His father even coached one of his basketball teams, and during one of their last games, he had twenty-four out of the twenty-six points that were made. Coach Woods knew he had a chance to be successful in the sport if he stuck with it.
His life changed after his parents divorced and he had to move with his mom and siblings to San Diego, California. Coach Woods and his brother did not want to move to San Diego, and even contemplated on running away from home. While in California, he would still play basketball at one of the local recreation centers. He said basketball saved his life because he “easily could have gone in the wrong direction.” He stated, “There were coaches who took interest in me, and some of the neighborhood OG’s wouldn’t let me do anything. They said nope you have a future.” When Coach Woods and his brother became the appropriate age to decide who they wanted to live with, they chose their father, and Coach Woods moved back to Bay City with his brother.
He attended Bay City High School and made the varsity basketball team as a freshman and took his education seriously. His dad always stressed the importance of getting an education. “I was placed in all honors classes. I never wanted to be that dumb jock,” he stated. He saw so many athletes simply being passed along so they could be eligible to play football, but Coach Woods knew he had to have good grades to be able to play in college. “So many athletes had the talent to play in college but could not pass the test needed to get in college,” he reflected.
Coach Woods graduated from Bay City High School in 1996 and received an athletic scholarship to attend Southern Methodist University (SMU), in Dallas, Texas to play basketball. He enjoyed his time at SMU and stated, “It was an amazing experience, an experience that I never took for granted. It’s time consuming and very much like a job, but because I loved it, I never viewed it that way.”
He graduated from SMU in 2000 and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Management Information Systems. At this time, computers were starting to evolve, and Coach Woods had a love for working with computers, so after graduation, he started working for a technology company called “i2 Technologies”. He enjoyed working there, but the economy at the time slowed down, and since he was the last one hired, he was first one laid off.
In his free time, he would go to the YMCA in Fort Bend County to workout and play basketball to stay in shape. His friend was the director at the YMCA, and they were looking for coaches for their league. Since he didn’t have a job at the time, he decided to pursue it and told his wife, “This could be the start of something.” He enjoyed working with the young kids and teaching them the fundamentals of basketball. Little did he know that this new beginning would lead him on a twenty-year career path as an educator and a coach.
Coach Woods had an uncle that was a teacher and a coach, and he spoke to him for guidance. He then with through an Alternative Certification Program and started teaching. His first teaching job was at Katy High School, where he taught accounting and Business Computer Information Systems (BCIS).
He was only at Katy High School for a year before he received an opportunity to be the JV Coach at Hastings High School. He stayed at Hastings for six years. Although he was grateful for his time at Hastings, Coach Woods was “ready to fly out of the nest” and run his own program. Because he did not have any head coaching experience, he went through many challenges before someone took a chance on him. Despite these obstacles, he persevered and became the head basketball coach at MacArthur High School in the Aldine Independent School District (AISD) in 2009. To this day, he is still very appreciative of the opportunity that he was given in Aldine.
His career in AISD lasted six years, and Coach Woods made it known that being the head basketball coach at MacArthur made him a better coach. He developed many great relationships with his students, his players, and his colleagues, so when another opportunity came available, it was not easy for him to leave.
He received an opportunity to be the head basketball coach at High Tower High School. He was a finalist for the position the first time around but did not receive the job. A year later, the position became available again, and this time, he received the job. Coach Woods has been the head basketball coach at High Tower high school since 2015. He instills many things in his athletes, one being the importance of getting an education, and the importance of having good character. Coach Woods took his team to the second round of playoffs this season and finished the season with a record of 25-10.
Coach Woods believes that being a coach is his calling, and this is what he’s supposed to be doing. “The game of basketball, I understand it, and I truly believe that I was called to use basketball to help the youth, and teach them life lessons, and use basketball as that vehicle to do that.”