ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – The Glenvar High School Community is grieving alongside a family native to Roanoke County for the loss of their 26-year-old son, teammate and friend after a motorcycle crash in Alaska.
Sgt. Tim Woods was stationed with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) of the 25th Infantry Division's 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.
He was a 2011 Glenvar High School graduate where he was a star on and off the football field as a running back and linebacker. Those that knew him said he was the epitome of everything right. He was a 2011 all district running back at Glenvar and earned multiple accolades for his service. Tim Woods' cousin, Jacob Woods, said his family is coping with the loss and that the only thing his cousin loved more than his country was his family.
"To family and friends it was Timmy, but for everybody else, it was Tim," Jacob Woods said. "Knowing that Timmy's life was cut short at just 26-years-old, we know he definitely lived a full life. Being able to look back on that, and being able to look back on that keeps us going knowing that his love for his country was there."
Few people outside his family knew Tim Woods' character better than Glenvar High School football Coach Kevin Clifford. Woods' dad worked under Clifford for a number of years and Clifford said he feels like he's lost a part of his own family.
"It's been really tough because my children looked up to him as a hero," Clifford said.
The Glenvar football team traveled to Blacksburg High School on Friday night for a pre-season scrimmage. While none of the players on the field are old enough to have known Woods personally, Clifford said his legacy lives on and the student athletes are aware of his passing.
Clifford attributed much of Glenvar's current success to young men like Woods and his then teammates who bought into a work hard, practice harder mentality.
"Tim was the consummate team player, he didn't care if he was running the ball or blocking, he was all about the team, and he was like that in the military," Clifford said. "His unit commander said he was the first one to get up in a fire-fight to protect his fellow soldiers and that's just how Tim was and that's how he did everything in his life, he was a selfless kid."
Jacob Woods said his cousin loved cars and motorcycles and that he had always looked up to him. Woods joined the military following the in footsteps of his dad and other family members, building on the character he carved in Roanoke County.
"Growing up the highlights of my childhood were watching him play football and seeing him serve as we got older, it was just an impressive feat," Jacob Woods said. "He's probably one of the best running back, linebackers to come out of Glenvar High School, and he hit hard."
News organizations in Anchorage said Woods lost control of his motorcycle last weekend and hit a guard rail, dying of his injuries. No other cars were involved and police told local reporters that the crash remains under investigation.
Woods served about a year in Afghanistan and had been stationed at a number of other places across the country. Jacob Woods said the family now feels as if Tim is looking down on them as an angel. Old highlight reels bring them comfort, knowing that he excelled in service brings them peace."
"I was able to write Timmy's obituary which should be published in a couple of days, so that was one of the things that I felt most honored to do," Jacob Woods said.
Back on the football field, pre-season mistakes happened as to be expected. Clifford said a lot of times players and parents think that through all that, coaches forget about the kids they've mentored, watched mature, and compete under them. He said it's the complete opposite, coaches do not forget, especially someone like Tim.
"We want to see those young men be successful in whatever endeavor they're in," Clifford said. "Tim was successful, he was a great soldier, he was a good man,and he was beloved by everyone who came across him."
Woods' battallion honored his life earlier this week at a service in Alaska. His family will celebrate his life at a funeral Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Oakey's in Salem. He will be burried at the Veterans Cemetery in Dublin.
"Timmy just loved his family, he loved his friends, he loved where he was from, I just want his memory not to be forgotten," Jacob Woods said.