Life of Professor Ephraim Woods Celebrated with 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament

This past Sunday, Colgate University Athletics and a group of students organized a 3-on-3 basketball tournament to honor Professor of Chemistry Ephraim Woods, who passed away on February 13.

A devoted Hamilton community member, Woods was a favorite of students and an avid support of Colgate University athletics — particularly basketball.

“Having grown up in northeastern Kentucky, he enjoyed basketball more than any other sport and was a committed fan of the University of Kentucky Wildcats” remarked his son and current Colgate student senior Aidan Woods in an April 6 email from Colgate Athletics.

Woods served as faculty liaison for the Men’s Basketball team and grew to support the Raiders alongside a lifelong love for the Kentucky Wildcats. In the weeks following Woods’ death, the Colgate Athletics community rallied to honor a loyal fan and celebrate his legacy.

The 3-on-3 tournament hosted in his name this past Sunday seemed to be a fitting representation of that connection and of Woods’ memory. With all proceeds going to the American Brain Tumor Association, the event hosted 23 teams on Cotterell Court in the Reid Athletic Center. Men’s soccer captain, and Aidan’s friend, senior Bobby Foose, was one of the students who worked closely with Colgate Athletics staff to host the tournament.

“Basketball was a massive part of Professor Woods’s life and something he shared with Aidan consistently throughout life,” Foose said. “Aidan frequently talks about his memories of shooting hoops or watching games with his dad.”

A close friend of Aidan’s since their first-year seminar, Foose took great pride in planning this tournament.

“Aidan’s supreme intellect, caring soul and contagious happiness have made me feel lucky to call him a friend for four years,” Foose added. “Even though I never had the pleasure of meeting his father, hearing the testimonies to his character through Aidan, his mom, his sister, Coach [Matt] Langel and many others at Professor Woods’ memorial service was nothing short of inspiring, heart-wrenching, and supremely beautiful.”

Students and faculty of all ages were in attendance to play, referee or simply watch the fun. Gathered in the stands, loyal fans like the man they were there to honor, a respectful but celebratory tone defined the atmosphere in Cotterell Court.

Members of both the men’s and women’s basketball teams were in attendance, with several even taking the court in the tournament. As a viewer, it was a tremendous sight to see Division I basketball players who play at the highest level of collegiate competition mixing it up with students who had never played organized basketball before.

Tucker Richardson, senior and guard on the Colgate Men’s Basketball team, emphasized how much Woods meant to the basketball team. He said he hopes that this memorial tournament continues to honor him in the future.

“I’m so glad that [Foose] and Aidan organized the 3-on-3 tournament to honor Professor Woods this past weekend. Our team knew Professor Woods as someone who loved the game of basketball, so to see so many people out there having fun, spending time together, doing something he loved so much was very fulfilling,” Richardson said. “Of course more importantly, the event also was important in raising money and awareness for cancer research. All in all, I hope that this tournament continues at Colgate to further Professor Woods’ memory and legacy.”

Senior and Colgate Men’s Basketball forward Malcolm Bailey echoed Richardson’s sentiments.

“Seeing the Colgate students and community come together to celebrate his life and his passions of basketball was very joyous for not only our team but it could be seen on the faces of everyone participating and spectating,” Bailey said. “It is an event we wish to see carry on in the future to remind of us his incredible impacts to the school and basketball program and commemorate him and the caring, intellectual, and competitive person he was.”

One of the most competitive games took place between three students and three faculty members in a fierce exchange of three-pointers. Members of the community in attendance began to gather around the court as the game developed. The strength of the Colgate community became tangible, as many came together to unite through the game that Woods loved so much. The game ended with a a reverse layup that made the final score 21-18, earning a large roar from all in attendance.

With the success of this weekend’s memorial tournament, organizers plan to continue this newfound tradition.

“Aidan and I will certainly return to Hamilton for next year’s tournament, whether it is in the fall or the spring, and Coach Langel has expressed excitement over planning next year’s tournament,” Foose added. “The goal is to continue expanding in participants and donations, as this year we had a great turnout with just over a month of planning.” 

For those in attendance, the tournament served as a fitting celebration of a beloved community member for whom sports was an arena for supporting the students and colleagues who he cared about.

Soccer player and senior John Muckstadt discussed the tournament’s ability to unify the school.

“I had an absolute blast playing in the tournament this past weekend,” Muckstadt said. “It was filled with lots of fun and laughter, but most importantly, we were able to honor Professor Woods by playing a sport he loved. I am glad we were able to win the whole thing, but I’m even happier that money and awareness were raised for a great cause.”

Ephraim Woods’ passion for the game of basketball, along with the many lives he touched as a professor, will no doubt live on in this new tradition in his honor. 

“It struck me how special it was that sports had brought many of us to the place we are in life. Sports connected us on a day like last Sunday, just as sports connected my friend Aidan with his dad in the most unique way,” Foose remarked. “Professor Woods was able to spread his character and love through sports to so many as a father, a faculty liaison, a professor, a mentor, and a friend and that is what we intend to do with this tournament in the future.”