STILLWELL, Kan. — Every time he tees it up, the memory of a loved one goes along.
There’s no way a teenager could prepare for the grief Colin Wood is surviving.
On Sept. 3, the senior Blue Valley High placekicker lost his mother, 48-year-old Melissa Wood, after a six-year battle against ovarian cancer.
In the Kansas City business community, Melissa Wood was respected as being the CAO of a large corporation. To Colin and his two siblings, she was their source of love and inspiration.
“Losing that mother figure, but you also lose such a great mentor. She had so much to teach me,” Colin Wood said Thursday.
Melissa Wood’s passing coincided with the opening week of the 2019 high school football season in Kansas. Colin said he continued to practice with his teammates, leaning on them as a source of strength.
At Melissa’s funeral, a speaker shared thoughts she’d written down for each of her three kids. Her instruction to Colin was: “Go kick a long field goal for me.”
When the Tigers tangled with Blue Valley Southwest in September, Colin crushed a 42-yard field goal, which is one of several long field goals he’s made since her passing.
Before every field goal attempt, Colin points to the sky, as if to send his love to her in heaven.
“It’s so special to think I gave her what she wanted. I know she was there with me while I was doing that. She guides that thing in there,” Colin Wood smiled.
The Tigers believe she’s still there, too.
The Tigers’ opening game was a “teal out,” where displays featuring the official color of ovarian cancer where all around the football stadium. All season long, the Tigers have added a teal ribbon sticker to their helmets, and Colin’s teal cleats have a special handwritten message: “Love you most.”
Colin said it’s an expression mom often used, showing affection to her kids.
“She’s going to be there the whole time, and through that whole kick with me. No matter what, she’s proud of me,” Colin Wood said.
Tigers starting quarterback Jake Wolff holds when Wood kicks. Before every attempt, which can be a nervous moment for high school football teams, Wolff and Wood express their brotherly love for each other, and dedicate each kick attempt to Melissa Wood’s memory.
“He’s my favorite person in the world, to be honest,” Wolff told FOX4. “Every day, no matter the circumstances, he’s always walking the hallways with a big smile on his face. Nothing can bring him down.”
“The kid reeks of love and he`s easy to love because of that,” said Allen Terrell, Blue Valley’s popular third-year coach. “It speaks to his parents and the way the young man was raised. He’s been surrounded by love his entire life and it shows.”
“This has been a big struggle, but not with these guys. Not when I`m out on this field,” Wood smiled.
Blue Valley (8-3) is due to face Olathe North (9-2) on Friday night. The winner will advance to the Kansas Class 6A championship game on Nov. 30 in Emporia, Kansas.