Come Sept. 1, CSU alumnus Jeff Wood (computer science, ‘86) knows which side of Mile High Stadium he’ll be sitting on.
But a green-and-gold allegiance wasn’t a given for this former Hewlett-Packard vice president and Academy Award award-winner.
Wood’s parents, David and Carol, both attended the University of Colorado Boulder. His father even earned his law degree there, while Carol cared for young Jeff as she ran a local gas station.
When it came time for Wood to select a college, he had his eye on engineering and was admitted to CU, CSU, and Colorado School of Mines. But when CU failed to offer him a spot in its engineering college and CSU did, he rebelled from the strong Buff legacy and opted for school in Fort Collins.
And he was glad that he did. Not only was he able to find his true passion in computer science in the College of Natural Sciences, but he also met his soon-to-be wife, Debra, who was studying interior design. The two started a family, and Wood found a successful career with HP’s workstation division.
The split continues
But the CSU-CU rivalry didn’t stop with Jeff and Debra’s generation. Their children – and children-in-law – are now spanning the divide as well. His oldest son, Josh (journalism and technical communication, ’09), and youngest son, Mitchell (journalism and technical communication, ‘18), both went to CSU, as did Josh’s wife Nikka Wood. His daughter Katie, however, studied at CU, earning a degree with honors in economics.
When Katie began at CU, Debra signed up to participate in CU’s Parents Advisory Board, becoming president by her daughter’s senior year. Katie, however, couldn’t escape the Rams and is now married to CSU alum Chris Kennedy (restaurant and resort management, ’04). Wood’s other daughter, Danielle, stayed out of the fray, graduating from the University of Northern Colorado. However, her boyfriend Lee McMunigal is also a Ram (business, ’13). In the meantime, another Ram joined the family when Wood’s sister Julie married Scott James (political science, ’02), a local radio personality and current mayor of Johnstown, Colorado.
With all of these homes divided, the Rocky Mountain Showdown game day could get complicated. But regardless of their alma mater, the whole family sits together on the Rams’ side. Why? Because, Wood said, they have long been CSU season ticket holders.
They are especially looking forward to this season: “We’re super excited about the new stadium – we have seats in the gold section, on the 50-yard line,” he said. And even though Wood’s parents went to CU, they couldn’t resist the call of the Rams.
“They have been long time supporters of CSU and for decades on game days, they’ve been up in the Ram’s Horn Club rooting on the Rams,” Wood said.
The family’s passions extend beyond the field into the philanthropic arena. Wood’s parents helped to start and run The Griffin Foundation, named for Pat and Edna Griffin, who owned the Gasamat chain of gas stations where his mother had worked – and who were friends of the family. The foundation has contributed generously to the arts, health care, and higher education, including more than $7.8 million to CSU.
Given the multi-generational competing allegiances, Wood said, the school colors don’t just come out on game day. And the rivalry, too, permeates the year, he said. “It’s all the time,” he said. “On Game Day, it’s just heightened.”
Which side will the next generation be rooting for? Wood’s young granddaughter, Hadley Kennedy (daughter of Katie and Chris, Buff and Ram, respectively), remains, as her joint CSU-CU shirt explains, a “baby undecided.”