NNU student-athlete demonstrates "The Real Winning Edge" (#GoNNUCrusaders)

October 7, 2014

On Saturday, October 25, the story of NNU student-athlete Jeremiah “Bear” Woods aired on “The Real Winning Edge” on KTRV channel 12. “The Real Winning Edge” is nationally syndicated on FOX networks. It introduces viewers to some of the most talented and inspirational young people in America. Through interviews and profiles, these remarkable high school and college age students provide honest answers to questions about how they dealt with adversity in their lives and overcame. 

Bear was just two weeks into his freshman year at Northwest Nazarene University when he got a call from his dad to tell him that his brother had been killed in an attack by militants on the American Embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Ty Woods had been serving as a CIA contractor after retiring from a career as a U.S. Navy SEAL.

The news was devastating and yet not the first significant loss that Jeremiah had faced. His mother was diagnosed with breast cancer the day before he was born and subsequently passed away when he was only 16 months old. As if this was not enough loss for a lifetime, Bear has also been shaped by the tragic death in a dirt bike accident of one of his close high school friends.

“When you are faced with these circumstances, you can take it a couple of different ways. I didn’t work through [the death of my brother] until about a year after. I took advantage of the [NNU] Wellness Center counseling and faced up to a lot of issues in my past. The community here was very supportive and conducive to healing.” says Bear. 

Rather than succumbing to anger and grief, Jeremiah has chosen to use tragedy as a catalyst to make a difference in the world and to spur him towards success. “It’s driven me to live up to the family legacy,” he says. In addition to his brother’s distinctive military service, his mother was a career missionary. Both family members have inspired his goals of joining the military, becoming a medical doctor and eventually serving as a medical missionary.  

He has taken advantage of every opportunity in both college and high school to get involved and take on leadership roles to prepare him to meet those goals. In high school at Damascus Christian School in Oregon, he was a three-time state champion, twice in shot put and once in the discus. He participated in the USATF Junior Olympic Championships in Baltimore, Md. and was one of two Oregonians to throw over 50 feet in the shot put, 150 in discus and 175 in javelin.  

Bear credits God’s guidance in the midst of difficult circumstances for leading him to NNU and directing his future plans. The loss of his friend in high school brought him back to Damascus Christian after his family had moved to Hawaii. He felt the need to be among his classmates during their time of significant loss. One day he was serving a lunch detention when NNU admissions counselor, Jen Miller, was making a college recruitment presentation. He asked to attend as an excuse to get out of detention and ended up finding the perfect school for him. “The pieces fell into place academically, athletically and spiritually. It was a really good fit for me.”

At NNU, Jeremiah is in his junior year as a pre-med major and a member of the track and field team. “Here I am a student-athlete, in that order,” he says. Being an NCAA Div. II athlete means Bear is encouraged to focus on his academic and social development as much as his athletic success. He has had a number of opportunities to help him prepare for a challenging future that include conducting field research under NNU professor Dr. John Cossel and serving as president of the FCA.  

Regarding the honor of being featured on “The Real Winning Edge” he says, “I feel like I really need to live up to the responsibility of being this kind of role model.” Clearly, Bear is equipped to handle this and every challenge that lies before him.