Valerie Wood

What can I say about Valerie Wood that has not already been said? This was a task that I approached with trepidation, but that has been turned into liberation. I feel that all that currently lives about Valerie Wood is her legend and noone knows the real quizzer. In fact some have even referred to her as “that daughter of George Wood’s.” While Mr. Wood has certainly been the most out front member of the Wood family when it comes to quiz, he is not the best.

Valerie Wood was a rare quizzer. She was seemingly able to memorize sections with little or no effort. Back when she quizzed there were very few opportunities for quizzers to participate in events other than AACS. Her coach found something they can do with different rules and a different structure. There was a catch, though. Despite the fact that they were quizzing over a section, which she had memorized completely, in order for her to compete in this new opportunity, she had to memorize a completely new section. Not only did she do it (all of it), she was the best quizzer in each!

In addition to her ability to memorize in extremely quick fashion, she was a dynamite quizzer. Almost half of the voters on our panel feel she was the best ever. She quizzed in the days of only three years of AACS eligibility. In those three years, she led a very strong team to within 2 loaves of bread of an AACS Championship, she led an otherwise non-descript team to another second place finish, and she did have the privilege of winning it all once.

Most people reading this have no clue about the loaves of bread, but it makes for a phenomenal story. Back in the days when Paul West (Wednesday) was seen as just an excitable coach who had recently left Pine Hills Christian Academy for an upstart Master’s Academy team, he had a team led by Jimmy Thompson. That team and the Valerie-led Southside powerhouse were clearly the class of AACS. They made it to the final two–both without a loss and both had nary a middle win (except to each other). Southside dominated the first quiz and won in short order. In the third quiz, TMA returned the favor. In the middle, however, is one of the best quizzes of all time. Two powerhouses going back and forth. It came to the tiebreaker question. The question went “How many loaves of bread…” Those who know the Scripture can attest, there is one parable where Christ used 7 and another where he used 5. She had to guess. A correct guess merits a win. An incorrect guess–a loss. She guessed the wrong one.

While we have all lost quizzes, I don’t believe I have ever seen another quiz where there were two, equally-matched, GREAT teams. When we wrote articles on dynasties a year ago, both of these teams were in the dynasty period for their school. It was the best of one team against the best of another. For Floridians, it was a first ever title, but to those who love quiz, it was sad to see one of the all time greats stumble in a very human moment. Oddly, I am both a Floridian and a lover of quiz. In Florida, we still look at that year as the mother-ship calling us home. It put us on the map. For Valerie, however, it was a defining moment of a different sort.

I have heard it said that one’s character is best revealed when they are at their lowest. Valerie’s quizzing low may have occurred that day, but she was at an all time character high. Her grace was seen by all. Fortunately for Valerie, character is the most important thing in life. She made an everlasting impact on a four-year-old boy, who had found something to watch while his sister competed in some Piano competition. My team had won, but I had gained more respect for the team they had beaten. I determined that from that day forward any team from Southside would be my second favorite at AACS (to Florida of course). Unforunately, I spent years watching that same Master’s team trounce my school and I could associate with Valerie’s feeling. I only hope that I showed half the grace as Valerie, even though I wasn’t nearly half the quizzer. As I understand it, Valerie is continuing her devotion to the Lord in North Georgia with her husband, Robb, and their new twins. Watch out for these two in 2022!

To get back to Valerie’s greatness, I think it can not be understated the impact she has had. Long before her father took over, her Southside team made the PQA respectable. She gave it some merit. Without her work, I believe the PQA would have been just another league of local church teams. She turned it into THE league. The PQA model is attempted to be duplicated and now, no fewer than three state champions compete every year. And usually the best program is one of the churches that doesn’t even compete in one of the state competitions. I believe that without the stage given to it by the greatness that was Valerie Wood, the innovative concept of David Douglas (Tuesday) may never have been realized.

Use God’s Light Valerie, you’re on the list!

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