FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — During what has been a stellar year for the West Forsyth High School football team, players have not forgotten Ryan Wood, a former teammate who died earlier this year of cancer.
Ryan, 16, was a member of the Titans’ junior varsity football team last year and more than likely would have been an offensive lineman on this year’s varsity squad, said Adrian Snow, the team’s coach.
Before each game, a teammate carries Ryan’s No. 65 jersey onto the field and positions it in such a way that it faces the crowd.
His teammates have now added a reminder of Ryan that will be in place for years to come.
On Thursday, before a pep rally and bonfire, the team — along with cheerleaders and players’ parents — dedicated a tree near the new entrance to the football field on the West Forsyth campus.
Donnette Anderson, whose son, Ryan Anderson, was one of Ryan’s friends, said she and some parents got the ball rolling on the tree.
“Some other mothers and I were talking earlier in the year, and we saw that a tree had been dedicated to someone, and we just thought it would be really nice to plant a tree in memory of Ryan,” said Anderson, whose son plays for the Titans’ football team. “And it just took off from there. He really touched a lot of these kids. He was a very, very nice young man.”
A parent donated money for the landscaping costs.
Snow said Ryan Wood’s spirit is part of the team.
“A lot of things keep Ryan with us,” he said. “He has enjoyed this ride, too, no doubt.