Wood Finds Passion, Faith at Bluefield College
“Live your passion!” It’s the Bluefield College brand. Whether it is to lead, learn, perform, compete, worship, serve, or simply belong, students find their passion, nurture it -- even live it at Bluefield College.
June 15, 2012
Critically-acclaimed sports performance improvement specialist and Bluefield College alumnus Spencer Wood speaks during one of his training sessions.
That’s exactly how it is for BC alumnus Spencer Wood, a 1998 Bluefield College graduate who turned down a lucrative career in business to live his passion. But, it’s not exactly how it all started.
Wood, a native of London, England, came to Bluefield on an athletic scholarship with no other intention than playing basketball and preparing himself for a successful career in business.
“I had no faith system,” said Wood. “I grew up in a family of atheists, so I didn’t come to Bluefield College because of its faith focus. I came because I had a scholarship to play basketball.”
He was captain of the men’s varsity basketball team and a member of the men’s varsity soccer squad. He also participated in the International Club and won a spot on the Homecoming Court. But, even that wasn’t enough for Wood.
“When I was a student, I had no faith and no direction, but the professors at Bluefield College breathed life into me,” he said. “Their kind words encouraged me, and they would accept nothing more than my best. They challenged me to achieve more than I ever thought I could.”
A two-time president of BC’s Student Government Association, Wood graduated with a perfect 4.0 grade point average with two degrees, one in business and one in history. But, he found more than basketball, popularity, and career preparation at Bluefield College. He found his passion and faith.
“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” said Wood. “I’m pouring all that I have into the rest of my life -- an education and a career -- but no time and effort into what happens after that. So, a different journey started for me. I found a God that loves me so much that he would die for me, a God who would love me not on the basis of my merit or works. This kind of God gave me a sense of peace.”
Wood made this profession of faith a year after graduating from BC, while well on his way to a lucrative career in business. In fact, after a couple of jobs in higher education and business consulting, he was offered the opportunity to become a business executive earning $83,000 a year, but he quickly realized that money was not his passion.
“When you pursue a position for the money, it can lead you down some dark roads,” said Wood. “I decided, even if it meant heartache and financial hardship, I was going to pursue my passion. If you can suspend your ego for your passion, then wonderful things will come your way. If you put your self esteem on the line to take risks to pursue your passion, then I guarantee you’ll be successful and your self esteem will grow.”
His true passion -- one he had nurtured a bit during his days as a student-athlete at Bluefield College, studying exercise science and psychology and competing in sports: coaching. But, not just coaching -- mental skills coaching and toughness training.
Wood decided to pursue that passion through the creation of Icebox Athlete, a premier provider of mental toughness instructional programs and speed, agility and quickness training plans for athletes. He added a master’s degree in exercise science and began working on his Ph.D. in psychology to better prepare to live his passion. The result: national recognition and complete personal satisfaction.
“It’s easy to become good at what you do if you’re pursuing your passion,” said Wood. “Don’t be concerned about how you’re going to make a living, but how you’re going to define and live your passion.”
Wood’s work has impacted championship teams and programs in the NCAA’s Big East, ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, and Colonial conferences, among others. He has worked with college athletes at Virginia Commonwealth, Kansas, Illinois, Rutgers, Maryland, Boston College, Clemson, and Florida. He also has spoken twice at the Nike Football Coach of the Year Awards program, three times at the National Soccer Coaches Association’s National Conference, four times at the Women’s NCAA Final Four, and once at the Men’s NCAA Final Four.
“I truly believe that the boundaries of your success are defined by your own belief system,” said Wood. “You will never outperform your self-belief system. No matter what your level of talent, you will never perform at a level higher than your self-esteem. People hate putting themselves in positions they think might damage their self-esteem. I say put your self-esteem on the line. You will have people tell you ‘you’re not good enough’ or ‘we don’t want you,’ but don’t let that stop you from pursuing your passion.”
Wood’s workshops with championship teams at the US Olympic Training Center, in professional leagues like the NBA, and with teams from every major college sport have garnered international media coverage on a variety of television networks, including NBC and ESPN.
He is without a doubt one of the nation’s most preeminent mental toughness coaches. That, he said, he hopes serves an encouragement to Bluefield College students who are considering a career in sports performance, but better yet an example for all BC students about the importance of pursuing your passion.
“I spent the first three years of my working life pursuing a career in business consulting that was not my calling and not my passion,” said Wood. “After heartfelt prayer, I decided to directly pursue my passion for sports performance, exercise science, and sport psychology. Follow your passion and calling, and the Lord will open up tremendous opportunities for you.”