Since 1982, Muhlenberg College has hosted Scotty Wood Weekend every year on the Saturday and Sunday before Thanksgiving. It first started as a four-team men’s basketball tournament and has since expanded to a four-team women’s basketball tournament in 1993 and an eight-team wrestling tournament that began in 2016 and was renamed the Scotty Wood Duals this year.
The tournament is named after Milton W. “Scotty” Wood and the tournament was started by his son Robert Wood, who hoped to rekindle the relationship between Muhlenberg and his father. Scotty Wood’s relationship with Muhlenberg begun in the early 1940s after he begun to serve free meals to the men’s basketball team after their practices at the Home Restaurant, one of his two restaurants located on 7th Street in downtown Allentown. The basketball team practiced near Wood’s restaurant and when practices ran longer than the hours of the Muhlenberg dining hall, he gave the players a card that could be used to purchase two dinners at his Home Restaurant.
After selling his two restaurants in 1948, Wood brought his hospitality to Muhlenberg in a full-time capacity, taking over the college’s food service operation. Wood later established The Wood Company and expanded his food service operations to Lehigh University as well as other local schools, hospitals and health care facilities.
For his tremendous work both at Muhlenberg and in the Lehigh Valley, Wood received many honorary accolades over the course of his lifetime, including honorary doctorates at Muhlenberg and Delaware Valley College, as well as many entrepreneurship and hospitality awards in the Lehigh Valley. With his strong relationship to Muhlenberg athletics, Muhlenberg decided to name their new athletic stadium after him in 1999 and he was inducted into the Muhlenberg Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002.
Wood passed away on June 18th, 2003, leaving behind a tremendous legacy at both Muhlenberg and in the Lehigh Valley. Scotty Wood Weekend is arguably the most publicized athletic event at Muhlenberg. T-shirts are sold to the community and posters and banners line the Life Sports Center and pop-up in other buildings on campus. When addressing team goals, the basketball teams and the wrestling team always state that winning the Scotty Wood Tournament and the Scotty Wood Duals is a top priority.
Once again in 2017 students, alumni, and fans packed the seats of Memorial Hall and the Dietrich Field House to cheer on the Mules. All three programs brought their Scotty Wood Weekend energy to the court and to the mat and each program achieved success over the three day weekend.
The Women’s Basketball team defended their Scotty Wood Title by beating Notre Dame of Maryland in the first round and Lycoming College in the championship round. Brandi Vallely ‘18 won her second career Scotty Wood Tournament MVP after setting a tournament record with 23 assists and posting a triple-double in the win over Lycoming. Chelsea Gary ‘18 was named to the all-tournament team with an impressive two-day performance, including a double-double against Lycoming. This was the Women’s basketball team’s 15th Scotty Wood Tournament Victory.
The Men’s Basketball team came into this year’s tournament as the defending champions. They won their first round game against SUNY New Paltz as they tied a school record by making fifteen three pointers. Five Mules players scored in double figures, with Matt Gnias ‘20 leading the way with sixteen points and nine assists. In the championship round, the Mules took on Misericordia, the defending Mac-Freedom Conference Champions. The Mules narrowly lost to the cougars 104-99 in the highest scoring game in Tournament history. Gnais and JeanLee Baez ‘18 were named to the all-tournament team.
The Wrestling team earned first place out of seven teams in the Scotty Wood Duals, as they won all four of their dual matches to start their season.
The Scotty Wood tournament is an annual reminder of a helping hand who was there for student athletes long before any who call the campus home even knew it existed.