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Ohio Machine’s Chazz Woodson balances on, off the field aspirations

Chazz Woodson is a Major League Lacrosse player for the Ohio Machine, but the Brown University graduate said his athletic prowess isn’t the only thing that defines him.
“Professional lacrosse is three days a week for 14 weeks and a summer,” Woodson said. “Lacrosse is a small piece of what we do.”
Woodson, who made an appearance an ESPN’s Top 10 plays segment for an acrobatic goal, aspires for a career outside of athletics to improve childhood education. He even taught in a low-income area for two years out of college.
“At the end of the day I’m not trying to be the best lacrosse player in the world, that’s not my end goal,” Woodson said. “It’s great that getting recognized for my lacrosse talent is giving me the opportunity to do these other things, that at the end of the day, those other things are what I really want to succeed in and people to recognize me for.”
The “other things” are a long list of work outside the white-painted lines of the lacrosse field.
During Woodson’s senior year of college, he and other Brown University student-athletes developed Makin’ Moves, a mentoring program through the Education Department at Brown.
The program was inspired by Woodson’s personal experience teaching in Manhattan through the Urban Education Semester program offered at Brown. The (UES) program introduces students to difficult issues faced in urban public education, according to their mission statement.
The Makin’ Moves mentoring program is designed to help student-athletes of color develop skills in preparation for the standards of higher education.
“I know for at least a good five years (Makin’ Moves) was up and running and doing some positive things,” Woodson said. “Not only were we able to help kids, but other student-athletes at Brown really took into the idea and wanted to continue it.”
Machine coach Ted Garber said he is happy to have Woodson be a part of the Machine because he is such a well-rounded person.
“His heart is helping kids develop mentally, good lacrosse skills, but good values and ethics,” Garber said. “He is not just a great lacrosse player, but a great person.”
Woodson made it clear that he understands the importance of the game with respect to everything else he is involved in.
“One thing I really enjoy doing, and lacrosse has given me the platform to do it, is inspiring people and motivating people,” Woodson said.
With that in mind, Woodson decided to get back into the education system, this time as a teacher for the Teach For America program.
Woodson was assigned to the Miami-Dade County Public School system during his first two years out of college. He began teaching fourth-grade students at Phyllis Wheatley Elementary School in the Miami neighborhood of Overtown.
“Every Teach For America school has its own issues, so I definitely had my ups and downs in the classroom,” Woodson said. “My experience was unbelievably valuable and in many ways rewarding.”
Woodson spent two years in the school system and said that after coming out of the experience, he developed a love for that area.
“As I continue to develop the lacrosse initiatives down here, that’s one area that I want to focus on,” Woodson said. “Despite the fact that I’m not teaching there anymore, I still would like to affect change in the area.”
In 2009, Woodson was injured and didn’t play a full season. In that same year, Woodson co-founded the creation of Dade Lacrosse, Inc., which is helping to raise awareness of the game and promoting a youth league in that area.
In 2010 he was injured, traded, and then deactivated from the MLL.
“I just felt like I had more to offer this league and this sport than what I was able to put forth in the last two years of playing MLL,” Woodson said. “This was just kind of a perfect storm.”
The Machine selected Woodson in the 2012 MLL Supplemental Draft in an announcement the MLL made on Dec. 14.
“He is a matchup nightmare,” said Ohio Machine general manager and president John Algie. “His ability forces other teams to be creative in a way that they’re going to defend him. Even if they are able to slow him down, that’s really only opening things up for other people.”
Woodson, who plays the attack position, is known for his rare style of play. During a win against Rochester on May 19, he made a play that landed him on SportsCenter’s Top 10.
“Lacrosse is meant to be played creatively, and that’s what I really enjoy about it,” Woodson said. “It’s not necessarily something I go out and try to do every time, but it’s tough to stop somebody when they’re right on top of the goal.”
Garber said he hasn’t really given Woodson any boundaries out on the field and that Woodson’s footwork, quickness and vision are tough traits for defenses to handle.
Woodson is the leading scorer for the Machine with nine goals.
Algie said it’s the work by guys like Woodson that make the lacrosse one of the fastest-growing sport in the country.
“When you have the opportunity to present yourself to the world, you have to do it in the right way,” Woodson said. “Lacrosse is not the be all and end all for me, I am well aware of that; I was taught that long, long ago.”

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