ADA – Melina Woods etched her name in the Ada school history when the senior standout recorded her 1,000th kill against Coldwater Thursday. The two-time All-Northwest Conference Player of the Year became the first Bulldog spiker to reach that incredible milestone.
Accomplishing that feat is testimony to the hard work, dedication and tremendous support Woods has received the past 10 years and it is something that might have never happened had it not been for the Gossard family, and Woods not liking to run.
Back in 2007 when Woods was first beginning, Melissa Gossard, who is her current high school coach, invited Woods to participate in a once a week volleyball event. Woods, who is friends with Gossard’s daughter, Madison, decided to go but was not all that excited about playing volleyball.
The turning point came in the fifth grade when Woods and Madison Gossard both quit soccer because the coach got mad at the pair for missing soccer practice to play volleyball.
“I’m not a fan of running,” said Woods about her transition into volleyball. “The fields kept getting bigger and so there was more running, and hitting the ball was more satisfying to me than to score a goal.”
Coach Gossard, who recognized her talent on the court, added that Woods was also a strong player on the pitch and would have probably excelled in that sport had she stuck to it.
By the seventh grade, Woods was engrossed in volleyball.
“I think I noticed I was good was when I going into eighth grade,” Woods said. “I wasn’t amazing but compared to the other teams we were playing I was getting a lot of kills.”
Realizing her potential, Woods tried out for one of the better club teams in the area, Oiler Attack, which has a national reputation, and made one of the traveling squads. This was the beginning of Woods successful volleyball journey and playing year round.
At this point in her life, the senior standout plays almost year round. This past summer Woods was a member of the Elite VBTC 17U Black team that finished first in the 17U Premier divisions with a perfect 13-0 record at the 44th annual AAU junior National Championship in Orlando Florida. She also playrd beach volleyball with Hardin Northern’s Shelby Alloway.
“I start school ball at the beginning of August and then I play that through October and then I get two weeks off before club starts at the beginning of November and that goes through the end of June.” Woods added last year she played right up until the school started competing in in beach nationals but this year she did not go to nationals because she wanted time off.”
Woods admits that when she had two weeks off all she was thinking about was playing again.
“The commitment she has put in year round is incredible,” Gossard said. “We don’t really see Melina in the preseason. She tried her freshman year but I told her that her level of play is higher than what we are offering.”
By her freshman year, she was varsity ready. However, she did not initially start because the team was senior heavy so Coach Gossard began to slowly integrate her into the lineup. By the end of the year, she was seeing plenty of action on the court and even though she did not start she was still named to the NWC league’s first-team as a freshman.
By her sophomore year, Woods was a team captain for the Bulldogs and was a major factor in Ada sharing the league title with Paulding with an 8-1 record. It was Ada’s first league title in nearly 20 years. Woods was named the NWC player of the year.
“I am really good at communicating with my teammates,” said Woods, about becoming a leader despite being an underclassman. “I am very vocal on the volleyball court. I think that I have had a leadership position since my sophomore year. I have a lot more experience than most of our players because I play year round.”
Woods repeated as the top NWC player last year as the Bulldogs posted an undefeated 8-0 record and won the league title outright.
As the senior season begins, Woods, who has already committed to play at Canisius , is more concerned about winning than milestones. Woods is also a top notch student that carries a 4.0.
“It is honor for me,” Woods said. “That is not a number many people get to reach and I am lucky to be able to have my setters and defense help me get that. It shows a lot of hard work I have put in to it.”
The consummate team player, the modest Woods, said the team has been successful in her four-year stint is because of the consistency of coaching and the fact that all these girls on the team had been together pretty much since the third grade
In fact, six of these players have been together since 2007 under the guidance of Coach Gossard. But it has been the connection between Madison Gossard and Woods that has really been the key.
Those two have always worked together and we even tried changing the rotation and put my other daughter as the starting setter…We tried it in a couple of scrimmages and it just wasn’t the same chemistry. The two just know where the ball is going to go and the different plays they run without saying a word. You would think it was like a twin sister thing.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468 or on twitter at @JoseNogueras1