Charles Wood might be quiet and unassuming, but it's easy to tell what is almost always on his mind.
Wood - a sophomore starting guard on the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team - absolutely loves the sport. He can't remember the last day he didn't hold a basketball or practice his skills. Each night before he goes to bed, Wood grips a basketball.
"The only way to improve is if you work just as hard in the offseason," said Wood, who played freshman and junior varsity basketball last year. "You should work even harder than the season. That's how you get better."
Wood's certainly gotten better.
The sophomore has always been talented. But during the summer, coach Luke DeWolfe said, Wood's game really took off.
Wood has gone from just another young player on a young team, to the Sailors' most consistent performer through eight games this year.
"Consistency more than anything else," DeWolfe said. "He's pretty fearless even as a sophomore against older kids and teams with a lot more experience. He's not afraid to step up. He's huge. He's a big part of our team not just offensively but defensively. He's invaluable to us."
During the offseason, Wood would play pickup games for at least two hours each day before lifting weights. He started to play football in the fall but stopped halfway through the season to focus on basketball.
Wood came into the year expecting to start at the shooting guard position. But with starting point guard Isiah Forsyth battling knee problems, DeWolfe had no problem moving Wood over to the point.
"He's stepped in and alleviated some of that pressure," DeWolfe said. "We really have two point guards. It's valuable for us to have a second guy that can handle the ball."
Wood said he feels as if he's becoming more of a leader on a team still searching for an identity. That will be especially important as the Sailors prepare to enter Western Slope League play when they return from the holiday break.
"He just works on his game all the time," said Alex Wood, Charles' older brother and a fellow starter. "One of the main reasons he dropped football is because his main focus is basketball all the time. He's in the gym more than most people I know. He's better than me. I'm more of a role player, and he could be a star."
For now, Charles is focused on what it's going to take for Steamboat to win another league title. While he admits Steamboat hasn't played as well as he'd like, he said all the pieces are there for another successful league campaign.
"If I'm not a leader, our team starts to fall a little bit," Charles said. "We've been playing a lot of hard teams. Our league is strong, but if we keep playing and improving we'll be OK."
- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org