GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Benjie Wood makes no bones about being a dad. He also makes no bones about winning, too.
Wood is set to retire from the public school system of Georgia and jump into the private high school basketball world as Lakeview Academy's next head boys coach.
The 29-year coaching veteran left Cherokee Bluff two years ago to pursue his lifelong dream of leading the Buford boys basketball program -- a school he graduated from in 1990. A month after a first-round loss to Berkmar in the Class 7A tournament, Wood, not knowing at the time, walked out of Buford Arena for the final time as head coach.
"I'm really thankful for the opportunity to come back here (Buford) and re-establish some relationships with the people I grew up with and serve this community," Wood said about Buford. "We tried to serve the community, school system, and the program as best we could. I'm proud of what we accomplished and just thankful for my time there."
Tuesday afternoon Wood spoke about the decision to jump to Lakeview Academy, saying family was the main reason for the move. Since leaving Cherokee Bluff two years ago, Wood has juggled coaching at Buford while also striving to make it to his children's many extracurricular activities at Cherokee Bluff.
As he said on Tuesday, moving to Lakeview Academy will allow him to catch more of those activities.
"I'm at a good point in my life that I can retire now," he said. "I can go to Lakeview and be a good dad, too, which is really, really important to me. People want to speculate and say a lot of things, but the people that know me, know that it's really important to me to be a good dad and family man."
But don't get any preconceived notions that Wood will be holding daddy daycare at Lakeview Academy any time soon.
The hardnose, fiery coach is bringing, as he says, "the juice" to the hardwood off Lakeview Drive. Known for his high energy, passion for the game, and desire to win while also molding his players into good young men, Wood has won everywhere he's been. His resumé speaks for itself -- leading both Gainesville and Buford to a state title appearance, North Hall boys and Johnson girls to two Final Fours and amassing 493 wins over his career.
"I'm coming to do what we do," he said. "I'm going to bring energy and passion. As I told John Simpson and Deuce Roark, I'm going to bring some juice. They said, 'what do you mean?' I said there's going to be a ton of passion and a relentless commitment to excellence.
"I've been everywhere in Hall County and know what it's like when an athletic program can really get together as a family and have a synergistic effect on each other. That's what we want to do at Lakeview."