After completing her senior year at Girls Preparatory School, Bailey Wood will be going across the country to continue her elite rowing career. Wood accepted a scholarship offer from UCLA, which was ranked sixth and finished ninth in the NCAA Championships in June.
The Lookout Valley resident also visited reigning national champion Ohio State and two other top-15 programs, Louisville and Clemson, and passed up invitations to Michigan and other high-ranking teams. After being part of the top United States junior development crews that won in 8s and finished second in 4s against Canada and Mexico in mid-July in Oklahoma City, Wood was much in demand.
"She was being recruited by the best schools out there in women's rowing," GPS coach Anders Swanson said Monday at a signing reception at the school. Praising her strength, skill and work rate as well as her humble nature, he called her "the kind of athlete who's the foundation of a program, the glue who holds it together."
The 5-foot-11 Wood set the GPS ergometer record for 2000 kilometers, "and her leadership is incredible," Swanson said. "She is a positive, energizing force."
Usually a starboard rower from the stern of a boat, Wood said her choice ultimately "came down to Louisville and UCLA, and I just liked UCLA's team and the school a little more. It's such a prestigious school."
Amy Fuller Kearney, the UCLA head coach, trained in Chattanooga with the U.S. women's national team before the 1996 Olympics and got a master's degree in education from UTC in 1998.
Wood has not decided on her course of study -- she'll probably start out in "Life Sciences, undecided major," she said -- but is excited about an extended stay in Los Angeles. Being in such a different part of the country is an added attraction, she admitted.
Wood tried ballet and gymnastics in her early years and was a diver before taking up crew when she came to GPS as a ninth-grader. In just over three years she has become one of the top high school rowers in the nation.
Contact Ron Bush at email@example.com or 423-757-6291.