In a first for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, a Community member has signed a letter of intent to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott.
On April 7, Sean Wood, a senior at Tempe’s Marcos de Niza High School, signed the letter in a private ceremony inside the SRPMIC Tribal Council chambers in the Two Waters Complex.
Wood welcomed guests and family members at the door of the Council chambers as they walked in to witness the ceremony. Wood will be joining the Embry-Riddle Eagles basketball team while taking classes in the university’s Global Security and Intelligence Studies (GSIS) program.
“I’m going to play basketball on a full scholarship. I’ll be there all four years. I’m a little nervous and excited,” said Wood. “I’ll be starting [in] late August [or] early September.”
Before Wood signed with Embry-Riddle, he had been waiting to graduate from high school so he could go to Embry-Riddle to attend some of their summer camps and keep training.
“I look forward to being on a competitive team; this is also the first year they will be having a basketball team, and I was chosen to be a part of it,” said Wood.
Guest speakers at the signing ceremony included SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier and Wood’s former and present coaches.
“This is really exciting. I don’t remember if there were any other Community members who have ever signed a letter of intent for either junior college basketball or major college basketball until today, so I believe Sean is the first of the Community,” said Harvier. “He will be part of the first [basketball] team of the [university], to start the foundation, and many will look back at that first year and [Wood] will be a part of that.”
Harvier remarked how Wood has been blessed to have such talent and to receive a good education.
Robert Johnston, Wood’s former coach and mentor, recalled the first time they interacted.
“When I first met Sean, he had longer hair and was playing on the baseball field. He finally attended a basketball camp, [and] it took him a while to get into the game,” said Johnston with a smile. “Once he got into it, he fell in love, got a lot better and continued. He is a role model to others. He [models] a great work ethic for those younger than him. It’s going to be awesome that he isn’t that far from us and we will be able to attend his games. Thank you for representing our team and your Community as well.”
Marcos de Niza coach David Stark expressed how Wood really flourished during his senior year. “He has great numbers and had great seasons; I have seen the progression. I’m really happy [about] where he is, and I know he is going to keep going and be very disciplined,” said Stark.
After the guest speakers left the podium, Eric Fundalewicz, head men’s basketball coach for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, sat down with Wood to complete the signing. Wood was then handed his team jersey.
Ever since Wood was young, he has stayed focused on one day playing ball at a college level, and soon he will reach his goal.
“It’s an opportunity of a lifetime signing with Embry-Riddle. It is a dream come true for me and my family,” said Wood.