By Ricky Pollitt
The name Sherman Wood has been a familiar one around Salisbury the past three decades.
Some know him as the wise, passionate speaker at sports clinics. Others know him as the loving husband and father to his wife, Tonya and daughter, Sherece.
But when most people around SU hear the name Sherman Wood, they automatically think of the man who stands on the sidelines every Saturday in the fall and cares not just about winning, but about the well-being of his players and the students of Salisbury University.
A graduate of SU in 1984, Wood was a four-year letterman on the Sea Gull football team where he played defensive back and helped SU earn its first NCAA tournament berth in the team’s history.
“I just want instant respect for our program,” Wood said. “I played youth league sports ever since I was six-years-old and it’s always helped me help others with the game of football.”
After graduation, Wood returned to Salisbury as a volunteer assistant coach under head coach Mike McGlinchey. He continued his coaching career by going to Bowie State as a graduate assistant and Virginia Union University where he served as a full-time assistant.
Wood later returned to Bowie State where he was given his first head coaching job. After serving there for six seasons, and compiling a 21-37-1 record, Wood made the move back to his alma mater; back to the maroon and gold.
“When I first came here, we were just hoping to win a couple of games. A .500 record was the goal,” Wood said. “Now, when I put together goals and expectations, the kids know we expect to have long seasons. We expect to be in the national playoffs. We expect to win the conference championship. Anything else is not acceptable and that is our mentality.”
Long seasons are exactly what SU players have had to prepare for the past few years. Since Wood has taken over, he has tallied six NCAA tournament appearances, two ACFC championships, two Empire 8 championships, and four ECAC Bowl championships.
To say the Wood era so far has been a success would be an understatement in many eyes. Back in 2005, he became the programs all-time winningest coach with 45 victories. Wood’s close to tripling that number, as he now stands at 115 victories going into the 2015 season.
Despite all the success, winning may not be the most important thing in the coach’s eye. An advocate for youth safety and a mentor for many local kids, Wood does his best to teach his players what it means to be a leader.
“(Coach) teaches you core values you need to succeed in life,” former Sea Gulls’ football player Jesse Langford III said. “He’s helped make me a better man.”
With all the honors, victories and lives he’s affected, there’s no doubt Wood is that rare person everyone loves to be around. From his ear-to-ear smile, to his father-like demeanor, Wood will always be regarded as one of the greats to wear the maroon and gold.
“I run a program designed to teach leadership while learning to be productive citizens,” Wood said.