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Eastside softball returns with a familiar face

COVINGTON — Eastside’s softball team has a not so new leader at the helm.

After being away from the game for five years, Heather Wood is returning as the Lady Eagles head coach.

During her time off, Wood had two children, Haylee, 5, and Luke, 3, as well as receiving her Masters in Special Education from Georgia College. Having accomplished so much in her personal life, she is ready to return to the game she has always loved and never forgotten.

“I love Eastside and I love Eastside softball. I saw this as a great opportunity. I’m excited and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to coach here again. I know what tradition we have here and I hope to continue to build on that tradition,” Wood said.

“I’ve had a lot of time to spend focusing on having kids and I worked on my master’s degree. It made me really miss the game, the competitive part of the game, so I had a time to have a break from softball but I’m definitely excited to get back into it.”

Wood worked with Eastside’s first softball head coach, Pete Mattice, starting in 2003 before taking over the program a few years later. She maintained a successful program taking the Lady Eagles to the state playoffs in Columbus two of her three years as head coach. In 2008, the Lady Eagles finished third in the state.

She hopes to take the team back to the height when the Lady Eagles were feared and respected. Everything will start on Tuesday when Wood and the team begin Eagle Pride Week.

“The first week of summer workout we’re doing something called Eagle Pride Week where we’ll focus on conditioning but also create that strong team bond and team unity,” she said. “After we get started with that we’re going to be in the weight room, work on speed and agility and training as well as focusing on the fundamentals of the game. We have a pretty intense summer workout schedule. I hope that will prepare them for the later part of the season.”

Even though Wood is not new to coaching softball at Eastside, she knows that for the returning players she is brand new to coaching since no one has worked with her in the past. She is taking over a young team as they only have two returning seniors.

“That’s a good thing. That’s something we can build on. I think I have a great group of talent and a good group of girls to work with,” Wood said. “As a new coach it will be a transition for the girls but I think it’s important to set the tone and expectations early.

“One thing I noticed, it started back when I was coaching, is how big softball is in the South. When you look on the college level, SEC is dominating right now in the college world series. I see theses girls starting earlier. Most of them play travel ball year-round. There’s definitely more invested in the game from these girls. I appreciate that as a coach.”