Coronavirus: Nightly prayer vigils for San Clemente Coach Joe Wood are held outside hospital – OCRegister

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Coronavirus: Nightly prayer vigils for San Clemente Coach Joe Wood are held outside hospital – OCRegister

In his decades coaching, Joe Wood supported his football players as they overcame all sorts of difficulties and challenges. Now his players, their fam

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In his decades coaching, Joe Wood supported his football players as they overcame all sorts of difficulties and challenges.

Now his players, their families and Wood’s family and friends are showing him the same support.

A rough case of COVID-19 put Wood, now a San Clemente High assistant football coach, into Mission Hospital about a month ago.

A nightly prayer vigil is held by his supporters in a Mission Viejo Mall parking lot that overlooks the hospital. Scripture is read, prayers are offered and memories are shared.

  • Joe Wood is an assistant football coach at San Clemente. He coached Aliso Niguel to a CIF championship in 1996. (Photo courtesy San Clemente Football)

  • Bill Culbertson, a San Clemente High School football coach for over 20 years, speaks about his friend and fellow coach Joe Wood, who is battling Covid-19, during a prayer vigil for Wood in the parking lot of The Shops at Mission Viejo on Friday, February 12, 2021. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Robyn and Dan Alvillar, next door neighbors and good friends of Joe Wood, emotionally speak about their friend during a prayer vigil for the San Clemente High School football coach, who is battling Covid-19 at Mission Hospital, on Friday evening, February 12, 2021. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues of Joe Wood, a football coach at San Clemente High School, and former head coach at Aliso Niguel High School, participate in a prayer vigil for Wood, who is struggling with Covid-19, on Friday, February 12, 2021 in the parking lot of The Shops at Mission Viejo, adjacent to Mission Hospital where Wood is being treated. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Scott Broussard, who described Joe Wood as his best friend, speaks about Wood during a prayer vigil for the San Clemente High School football coach, who is struggling with Covid-19, on Friday, February 12, 2021. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Bill Culbertson, right, a San Clemente High School football coach for over 20 years, speaks about his friend and fellow coach Joe Wood, who is battling Covid-19, during a prayer vigil for Wood in the parking lot of The Shops at Mission Viejo on Friday, February 12, 2021. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues of Joe Wood, a football coach at San Clemente High School, and former head coach at Aliso Niguel High School, participate in a prayer vigil for Wood, who is struggling with Covid-19, on Friday, February 12, 2021 in the parking lot of The Shops at Mission Viejo, adjacent to Mission Hospital where Wood is being treated. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Loved ones and friends of Joe Wood, a football coach at San Clemente High School who is currently struggling with Covid-19 and being treated at Mission Hospital, reach their hands toward the hospital during a moment of prayer in the adjacent parking lot of The Shops at Mission Viejo, on Friday, February 12, 2021 during what has become a daily vigil. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Loved ones and friends of Joe Wood, a football coach at San Clemente High School who is currently struggling with Covid-19 and being treated at Mission Hospital, reach their hands toward the hospital during a moment of prayer in the adjacent parking lot of The Shops at Mission Viejo, on Friday, February 12, 2021 during what has become a daily vigil. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • One of Joe Wood’s grandsons thanks those in attendance for their support during a prayer vigil for his grandfather, who is struggling with Covid-19, on Friday, February 12, 2021. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Joe Wood’s son-in-law and grandsons, who preferred not to be named, thank those in attendance for their support during a prayer vigil for their grandfather and father-in-law who is struggling with Covid-19, on Friday, February 12, 2021. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues of Joe Wood, a football coach at San Clemente High School, and former head coach at Aliso Niguel High School, participate in a prayer vigil for Wood, who is struggling with Covid-19, on Friday, February 12, 2021 in the parking lot of The Shops at Mission Viejo, adjacent to Mission Hospital where Wood is being treated. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues of Joe Wood, a football coach at San Clemente High School, and former head coach at Aliso Niguel High School, participate in a prayer vigil for Wood, who is struggling with Covid-19, on Friday, February 12, 2021 in the parking lot of The Shops at Mission Viejo, adjacent to Mission Hospital where Wood is being treated. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues of Joe Wood, a football coach at San Clemente High School, and former head coach at Aliso Niguel High School, participate in a prayer vigil for Wood, who is struggling with Covid-19, on Friday, February 12, 2021 in the parking lot of The Shops at Mission Viejo, adjacent to Mission Hospital where Wood is being treated. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Bill Culbertson, a San Clemente High School football coach for over 20 years, speaks about his friend and fellow coach Joe Wood, who is battling Covid-19, during a prayer vigil for Wood in the parking lot of The Shops at Mission Viejo on Friday, February 12, 2021. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues of Joe Wood, a football coach at San Clemente High School, and former head coach at Aliso Niguel High School, participate in a prayer vigil for Wood, who is struggling with Covid-19, on Friday, February 12, 2021 in the parking lot of The Shops at Mission Viejo, adjacent to Mission Hospital where Wood is being treated. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

“It’s an open forum,” said Andrew Mashburn, who was a standout wide receiver on the Aliso Niguel 1996 CIF Southern Section championship football team coached by Wood. Mashburn is now athletic director at the high school.

“The biggest thing with Joe is his persistence,” Mashburn said. And that is what Mashburn thinks is working in Wood’s favor during his COVID-19 battle – his work ethic and dedication.

Wood is a high-energy coach. During games he’s always on the move, up and down the sideline, engaging players with one-on-one instructional chats or cheering on whichever unit is on the field.

He works with the same enthusiasm at every practice.

“He was always on us to make sure a regimented schedule was followed,” Mashburn said. “And he allowed his assistant coaches to coach, and that gave him the freedom to do what he needed to do to be the head coach.”

Along with leading Aliso Niguel’s squad, Wood has worked as an assistant coach at Capistrano Valley and is now at San Clemente. Wood played college football as a defensive back at the University of Oregon.

Along with the nightly vigils, the community has shown its support for their coach by already raising more than $5,000 toward the family’s mounting medical expenses through a GoFundMe page that has been established.

San Clemente head coach Jaime Ortiz has known Wood for more than 30 years, going back to when Ortiz played football at Capistrano Valley High. Ortiz said he’s long marveled at Wood’s enthusiasm, which is well known, even beyond Orange County football.

“When college coaches come to San Clemente to recruit players they’ll see Joe running around and say, ‘That’s Joe Wood, right?’” Ortiz said. “Joe is always full of energy. I hope I have that energy when I’m 50, let alone when I’m in my 70s.”

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