By Zach Cavanagh
San Clemente assistant football coach Joe Wood died Friday, Feb. 12, at Mission Hospital after a month-long battle with coronavirus. He was 71.
Wood is survived by his wife Cheryl and six daughters.
There will be a candlelight vigil tonight (Saturday, Feb. 13) at 5:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Shops at Mission Viejo just below Mission Hospital.
Wood coached in the Capistrano Unified School District for 34 years with stints at Capistrano Valley High School, Aliso Niguel High School and the last 16 years at San Clemente High School.
“Joe Wood was a loving coach who cared for his players on and off the field,” San Clemente head football coach Jaime Ortiz said in a letter. “Coach Wood made it a point to develop a relationship with all of his players and continue those relationships past their high school years.
“He cared for his players as if they were his own sons, and it was evident by the way they played for Coach Wood.”
Wood, most recently a running backs coach for the Tritons, had been at San Clemente since 2005 and contributed to three league championships and the Tritons’ run their first CIF-SS and State championships in 2016.
Wood was also notably the head coach of Aliso Niguel’s first senior class in 1996 that went undefeated (14-0) and won a CIF-SS title. Wood was named “Coach of the Year” by many outlets that season.
“We are devastated by his passing,” Ortiz wrote, “and his presence will truly be missed by the entire football community and those who knew him.”