Friends and family of the late Donell Woods trickled into the new stadium Friday afternoon for a ceremony and plaque unveiling honoring the man for whom the newly constructed stadium is named.
After several delays the stadium finally hosted it’s first home game for the Panthers on Sept. 19. Friday was the second home game at the new facility and it’s first homecoming.
Woods was a LCHS alumnus as well as a coach and educator. Many who spoke recalled how well organized and respected Woods was. He was instrumental in keeping things peaceful when the old LCHS closed to make way for integrated schools. Many were former athletes, including current LCHS Principal Paula Scott.
“Donell Woods was a fine man,” she said. “He taught me driver’s education and coached me in softball when I was a student at Bradwell. I always had the highest respect for him and I’m very pleased.”
Scott said the stadium is great for the students and staff of LCHS.
“That we have our own facility our own place to call home,” she said. “I know that everyone here is very appreciative of it and very excited to have it.”
Donell Woods Jr. said he was overwhelmed. He carries on his father’s legacy by being involved in AAU and YBOA basketball. He also helps the South Georgia Kings and is currently working with the recreation department in Lawrenceville.
“It’s an honor to his legacy and to things he accomplished,” Woods Jr. said. “I’m kind of speechless. I’m a big sports fan and when I watch a game I see the names of the stadiums and wonder who is this person. And now here is a stadium named after my dad, it’s just a great honor.”
Woods brother Harold is a member of the Liberty County School Board and said it was a great honor for the family.
“I think it could not have been given to a better person,” he said. “My brother did a lot of hard work as an educator and as a coach and as my brother. I’m so full of joy I can hardly talk.”
But no one was more grateful and honored than Woods’ widow Yvonne.
“It is one of the most humbling experiences that I have ever had in this lifetime,” she said. “It’s very touching and the last two weeks has been somewhat overwhelming. I have to continue to be stronger. I survived all these years on his memories and it will be that way until I leave this earth.”