Girls Basketball Hires New Coach

Maddie Wood, who teaches special education, will coach Rio girls basketball.

Maddie Wood, who teaches special education, will coach Rio girls basketball.

Ashley Lundberg, Rio Mirada

When Madison Wood was a senior forward for the El Camino Eagles, she twice helped her team dominate Rio Americano on the way to a league title–the first time 74-40, the second 71-39.

Now she wants Rio to win.

Today, Wood was announced as the new head coach for the Rio girls’ basketball program, where she will take over for former coach Shawn Steck.

A special education teacher at Rio, Wood teaches history, government, study skills and economics to special day classes. While Wood has been a substitute teacher in the San Juan district for eight years, this is her first experience as an official teacher.

“This is my first classroom, my first year,” she said. “I love being here, this is a great school.”

Before becoming a teacher, Wood attended El Camino, where she graduated in 2008, and then went to Sacramento State University. In addition to playing softball, she played six of years of basketball.

“I grew up playing sports,” Wood said. “The basketball was pretty intense, and year-round.”

Wood had her childhood love of sports reignited this year while attending Rio’s basketball games. The nostalgia of watching the girls play led her to take on the coaching job.

“It really sparked it again, and then when I heard about the coaching opening, I decided, ‘I’m going to do it,’’’ she said. “Watching the games brought me back; I’ve been out of high school for quite a while so it brought me back.”

While Wood did not play in college, she did practice with the Sac State girls’ basketball team while playing for El Camino. One thing from this experience stood out to her, so much so that she hopes to make it a cornerstone of her new team.

“We practiced and did scrimmages with them,” she said. “They’re really good, and they had fundamentals.”

Fundamentals is something Wood will instill in her players this year, but she also stressed the importance of team dynamic, which she learned from her own playing career.

“I’d like to do some team-building, and really focus on the fundamentals, like sharp passes, and everyone is going to be comfortable dribbling the ball,” she said. “There were some points when I played where I didn’t feel as if I was a part of a team, and some teams could get really cliquey.”

Not only does Wood believe that creating connections will help the players on a personal level, she thinks it will help them on the court.

“When you start to build that with your team and really go, you can anticipate where your teammate is going and lead them with the ball,” she said. “Everything is just smooth and effortless.”

Wood hopes to bring some fun and energy to the program, and bring the team the same joy she had when she played basketball with her unconventional coaching style.

“We need a little bit of competitiveness, but also to have fun. I want the team to want to come to practice, and want to do the games, and not be nervous, but to be comfortable and supportive of each other,” Wood said. “I’m really excited to get out there because I want to be doing the drills with the team, I don’t want to just be telling them what to do.”

Rio finished 4-8 in the Capital Athletic League and 12-16 overall this past season. While the team is losing key seniors, several underclass players are expected to return, including junior Bizzie Lynch, who led the team in rebounds and assists.

In her free time, Wood enjoys reading, hanging out with her German Shepard, and watching Marvel movies with her friends (her favorite characters are Captain America and Thor). However, Wood is not at all worried about the less time she will have to spend on these activities, and is looking forward to her duties with the basketball team.

“I’m really excited!” she said.