The Sylacauga High School senior signed an academic scholarship with Jacksonville State University Thursday afternoon in a small ceremony at the school’s library.
Varsity soccer coach Mike Robinson said he was excited and proud of Woods for her accomplishment.
“She is the first female athlete to compete at a Division I since Shanara Hollinquest in 2006,” Robinson said. “Besides being a top-level athlete, she is also a varsity cheerleader, a member of four or five school clubs and has a 3.8 GPA.”
Take all of that and throw in a love of singing, and Woods’ talents seem endless.
“If it’s music, I love it,” Woods said. “I actually hope I can go to Jacksonville, do soccer and be a part of drama or the music program and do plays. I’m really excited about going; I want to get involved in everything.”
Woods helped lead the Aggies to a 7-10-3 regular season record and a first-round playoff berth. She also had a big performance at her senior night, recording two goals and one assist.
The midfielder only started playing soccer four years ago, something her coach thinks worked to her advantage.
“Sheilah didn’t touch a soccer ball until her freshman year, was the top scorer junior and senior year and now is going to play for JSU,” Robinson said. “I hope this shows parents of younger children not to put too much pressure on their children and let them have fun because either an athlete has the skill and talent to play at the next level or they don’t. You must have the desire and work ethic, too, but either you have a natural ability or not.”
Woods said having the opportunity to play at the next level is a big opportunity for her, especially having less experience under her belt than most prospects.
“I never played club ball until my senior year, so really I’ve only had about five seasons of soccer ever,” Woods said. “Four years ago if anybody would have asked me what I would do after I graduated, I would tell everyone ‘I’m going to win American Idol!’ So, now that I’m playing soccer, it’s just opened my eyes to what I’m capable of doing.”
Woods played one season at Briarwood Soccer Club and left an impression on coach Shawn Marlow.
“Sheilah is a tremendous athlete,” Marlow said. “I only had her for one year, she played one season for me in the fall. She’s a hard worker, makes her teammates better and is really just a determined athlete.”
Woods said she chose JSU over other colleges because she attended soccer camps there and felt familiar with the area.
“I absolutely love the campus,” Woods said. “It’s beautiful.”
Marlow said he felt Woods would succeed at the next level and that her speed and work ethic would be a good fit at JSU.
Woods credits a lot of her success to her coaches being patient with her inexperience early in her career.
“When I was a freshman, all I had was speed and I really didn’t know what I was doing,” Woods said. “So he (Robinson) would take me one-on-one and show me how to kick and shoot. My teammates are amazing; they’re really supportive and have helped me along the way, too. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them, my family or God.”