Las Positas College assistant men’s basketball coach Spencer Wood is not all that much older than the Hawks players.
In fact, during pregame warmups the past two seasons, fans often wondered if the athletic-looking Wood would be draining a few three-pointers in the contest. No such luck. Wood would take a seat on the bench when the game began.
The 24-year-old wears many hats in the program as Hawks social media ace, technology guru, photographer, and a players’ coach, who helps guys trust the process because the same process worked for him as a Las Positas competitor only a few years ago.
Head coach James Giacomazzi can’t say enough good things.
“He’s in charge of all our computer stuff. He’s great at social media. Personable with the guys. He’s really gifted with photography; he has a great eye for it,” Giacomazzi says of Wood’s many talents. “Whatever he chooses to do, I’m sure he’ll be successful at it.”
Coaching is in Wood’s blood, it turns out.
“From when I was young, I always wanted to be a PE teacher and a coach,” says Wood, who was a team captain his senior season at California High in San Ramon.
Wood played two seasons for the Hawks in a reserve role, including competing on the 2016-17 Las Positas team that won 22 games. He joined Giacomazzi’s staff, fresh-faced, for the 2018-19 season.
“He can tell players, ‘I was there not long ago. Coach is going to challenge you. He wants what’s best for you, but he has your back.’ He knows that because I had his back,” Giacomazzi says.
The upcoming Las Positas season was pushed back to the spring due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Last season, Las Positas (20-8) finished second in the powerful Coast-North Conference for the second consecutive year.
After a knee injury ended his playing career at Simpson University in Redding early in his junior season, Wood was welcomed back into the Las Positas basketball family at the age of 21, when he found himself guiding some of his old Hawks’ teammates.
“I don’t know if I’d I really call it like I was a ‘coach,’ I was more like a mentor,” Wood recalled of the role. “It was almost like a big brother-type thing because they know that I was in their shoes not that long ago, so it wasn’t a player-to-coach relationship, it was more personal. They knew they could relate to me a little more and they could ask me things that maybe they didn’t feel comfortable asking coach James and Coach Jordan (Whittenburg) who were a little older,” he continued.
Coach Wood has been a sponge for knowledge on an accomplished staff. Giacomazzi, for one, had an extensive playing career at Washington High, San Jose City and UC Riverside before amassing over 300 career victories at the community college level.
Whittenburg has also coached at Northwest Christian University in Oregon, University High (San Francisco), and Cornerstone Christian (Antioch). He starred as a player at Berean Christian (Walnut Creek) and Los Medanos College and Northwest Christian.
What’s Wood learned so far?
“The list goes on forever,” Wood says. “A lot of work ethic. Coach James is one of the hardest working people I know. He’s taught me a lot. There’s a lot more that goes into a basketball program, especially with a junior college program, than most people think. It’s not just basketball either. Coach Giacomazzi is in the office from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., is a good day for him.”
Wood said Giacomazzi, also the Athletic Director, also has to focus on keeping players eligible and marketing the program. Sometimes his days stretch until midnight.
As a high school player, Wood set the tone for his future by coaching at youth basketball camps. He also coached the Cal High freshman team after graduating before returning to playing at Las Positas.
Giacomazzi admires how Wood, with an unassuming nature, loves to play and compete. He calls him a worker and a grinder from a supportive family that attended Las Positas games even after Spencer stopped playing.
Obviously, Wood’s path to coaching was expedited after he suffered a torn meniscus at Simpson, followed by surgery a month later. Then six months into his rehab he re-injured his knee and had two more surgeries - and that was that.
“The doctor told me no more, no more basketball,” Wood recalled of the bad news.
But the road led back to Las Positas. Right where he belongs.