Aug. 6, 2010
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - University of Tennessee associate athletic trainer Jeff Wood, who is entering his 11th season working with the Volunteer baseball program, will spend the month of August in Tirrenia, Italy, helping to administer the Sixth Annual European Baseball Academy in conjunction with Major League Baseball International.
The trip is the second Wood has taken with MLBI, as he also traveled to Wuxi, China, in 2007. He left for Italy earlier this week and will work alongside an All-Star cast that features former Major League infielder and manager Art Howe, as well as former big league stars Barry Larkin, Wally Joyner, Bruce Hurst, Brent Mayne and Lee Smith.
"I have been very fortunate throughout my career in baseball to have some unique opportunities, and this is no different," Wood said. "The caliber of the staff here is incredible and I am just glad to be able to be a part of it, not to mention the fact that it also provides me a chance to visit one of the most beautiful countries in the world. To be able to help MLB International continue to spread the game of baseball around the globe has been a joy as well."
The MLBI European Baseball Academy, which will be held from August 4-27 at the Italian National Olympic Training Center in Tirrenia, Italy, will feature 50 of the best young players ages 15-to-20 from 11 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain), two African nations (South Africa and Uganda), and, for the first time ever, India. Participants, all National or Junior National Team players, were selected by the Major League Scouting Bureau after holding tryouts across Europe in April.
Since 2005, 42 European Baseball Academy alumni have signed contracts with Major League organizations, most recently Czech Republic pitcher Marek Minarik, who was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies during the 2010 MLBI European Baseball Academy try-outs.
MLB International Baseball Academies are held in Queensland, Australia (est. 2001), Tirrenia, Italy (est. 2005) and Wuxi, China (est. 2007), and are designed to provide promising junior players with both the environment and instruction to improve their skills in preparation for the rigors of professional and international baseball through four key areas: baseball skills development, physical development, personal development and coaching development. To complement the program, select coaches from National Baseball Federations are invited to train alongside the MLB coaching staff during one-week placements at the Academies. At the Academy's conclusion, the baseball equipment used will be donated to participating federations in order to continue the development of baseball.
Wood, 49, has been Tennessee's baseball trainer since 2001. He arrived at UT boasting numerous years of professional experience as a baseball trainer, including a 10-year stint as a certified trainer in the Baltimore Orioles organization. In addition, he has worked with the Bluefield Orioles rookie-league team, the Charlotte O's class-AA club, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), NASCAR and PRCA professional rodeos.
In 1987, Wood was named Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Southern League of Professional Baseball Clubs. He also has been invited to give numerous professional presentations on topics ranging from "Care and Prevention of the Potentially Cervical Spine Injured Athlete" to "Shoulder Injuries Associated with The Overhand Throwing."
The Winfield, W.Va., native earned a bachelor's degree in Education from Marshall (1984) and a master's in Exercise science from Tennessee (2002). He is certified by the National Athletic Trainers' Association Board of Certification and the State of Tennessee and also holds membership in the Tennessee Athletic Trainers' Society.