Elder gives a gift to the public through Sports Stag


Elder High School has been hosting a Sports Stag since the late 1970’s.

To be exact, the event started here in 1977. This event is held by the Alumni Association and is a treat to the Elder community. Every year there is a speaker that is chosen to come to Elder. This year, it happens to be Elder grad and former NFL offensive lineman for the Bills, Eric Wood ’04. It is a great honor to not only accept

Wood ready to become a leader for Bills - ProFootballTalk
Eric Wood ’04 during his time in the NFL

the invitation, but also do something positive. Eric coming back to Elder to speak is a chance for him to tell stories, see other Elder grads, and have those grads leave with some information that they can benefit from. The Stag is an event hosted every single year, and it is an event Elder High School has a pleasure hosting.

For my Journalism class, I needed to conduct an interview with some staff member so that I could get a better understanding of the Sports Stag. Thanks to Mr. Brian Bill who was able to answer my questions I had for him.

First, I wanted to understand why Elder did a sports stag in the first place. Mr. Bill said its been an event hosted by the Alumni Association since 1977, and it promotes Elder’s Comradery to Alumni and Friends of Elder. When asking who the stag benefits, I was told it benefits the faculty and staff at Elder.

The stag provides a bonus for those who work at Elder, since they do so much for the young men here at Elder. Over the years there have been many popular names to be a guest speaker at the Sports Stag. Mr. Bill said, “In addition to Sparky Anderson, some other more recognizable names include the following: Joe Nuxhall and Marty Brennaman, Forrest Gregg, Sam Wyche, Ken Anderson, Larry Csonka, Pete Gillen, Bob Huggins, Skip Prosser, Dan Patrick, Thad Matta, Charlie Weiss, Brian Kelly, Joe Morgan, Dave Lapham, Sean Casey, Chris Mack, Solomon Wilcots, and Kyle Rudolph.”

It is an honor to have these men come and speak at our event. These are some pretty reputable names, not every high school can say that these men have accepted an invitation to speak at their school. Curiously, I asked how Elder High School finds a speaker, and decides on the person who comes in.

Once again, Mr. Brian Bill was able to inform me on the process; he said, “The Alumni Association and members of the Stag committee are always brainstorming potential speakers.  Keeping our audience in mind (men who are at least 21 years of age), we try to think of appealing speakers who would have something interesting to talk about or stories to tell.  A speaker’s availability is also kept in mind, as the Stag is held during the winter to help battle “cabin fever” of our guests.  As a result, it can be difficult to book any active coach who is in season (i.e. NFL, college basketball); plus, college coaches in general are getting more difficult to book due to recruiting restrictions they must follow when visiting high schools.” These are some of the general answers I needed to hear. I am much more in the loop of what the sports stag is, and it sounds like a very neat event. Maybe one day I will attend the sports stag when I am older.

The Man in the Middle: Eric Wood leans on faith after NFL career ends abruptly | News | southeastoutlook.org
Eric Wood with his wife and kids

Now, onto this year’s stag. The Speaker is Eric Wood who is a former Buffalo Bill, Louisville Cardinal, and Elder Panther. He played nine NFL seasons before being forced to retire due to a neck injury. Eric conducted a Pro-Bowl season one of those nine years and is an Elder legend. Being one of few Panthers to make it to the professional level, which is not an easy task to complete. Eric Wood and his wife, Leslie have two young children, one boy and one girl. He even has his own charity, which shows his work off the field, too. This charity was started in memory of his late brother, Evan.

Mr. Bill is very excited about Wood’s visit. “Eric has etched out a spectacular career at Elder and beyond.  In addition to his two high school football state championships, he’s been inducted into the University of Louisville’s Athletics Hall of Fame and he started in each of the 120 NFL games that he played during his nine years with the Buffalo Bills.  Nowadays, he’s a known commodity on TV, radio, and via his “What’s Next with Eric Wood” podcast.  He also serves as a vital resource for chronically ill or injured children and their families in the Buffalo area via the Eric Wood Fund.  His experiences from each period of his athletic and personal life will no doubt provide an interesting and entertaining time for our audience on February 17”.

The long awaited Sports Stag takes place here at Elder on February 17, 2022. This event will be great for the Elder Community and Family, and should be a beneficial to all in attendance.