How did you two first meet?
Sarah Wood: I was working at [the bar] Cactus. I was 21, I think he was 22 and that was it!
Kerry Wood: Fireworks and everything! Everything slowed down, the music was in slow motion.
Sarah: I think we went to Jay’s and played pool. We moved in after like four months.
So you really knew you were meant to be.
Sarah: We moved in and now we’re 10 years married with kids and I made him stay in Chicago even though he’s a Texas boy!
Kerry: It happened fast! I tell my friends I went out to have a couple of drinks and woke up with a wife and three kids. No idea what happened.
What was it like dating a professional athlete?
Sarah: We traveled a lot. Before we had kids we went everywhere together and even with kids we did quite a bit of traveling. It was fun! It was a short time and we want the kids to remember it. We played in New York and Cleveland and that was interesting to be in different cities and live in Manhattan with three kids!
Kerry: I give a lot of credit to her. It was hard enough traveling by myself and taking care of my own suitcase and making sure I didn’t leave my phone charger every time and she’s traveling with three kids and car seats and Pack ‘n Plays. We were fortunate that I was playing before we had kids, so that’s all they knew. But we never went more than two cities or six days without seeing each other. We figured it out, definitely not easy to do.
Now that you are not tied down with baseball what are you looking forward to doing?
Kerry: I can go skiing now. I’m going to go skiing this winter for the first time in a long time. I picked up stand up paddle boarding this summer. I can ride in a hot hair balloon now, I can play basketball, I can do it all!
When you retired from the game were your emotions what you expected?
Kerry: Five years before I retired I thought I was going to be leaving not on my own terms with a torn rotator in my shoulder so I felt like every pitch, every week, every game was a bonus for the last five years. Mentally I was prepared for that time to come, I knew it was going to happen. We all have to retire and I think I had already come to terms with that long before [retiring].
With Kerry home a little more, anything that gets on your nerves?
Sarah: Kerry is used to having clubhouse attendants clean up after him. [Laughs] No, I can’t say many things. You’re pretty easy.
Kerry: I’ve gotten better! I’m housebroken. I’m not a big fan of dishes, I don’t do a lot of dishes.
Each December Wood Family Foundation (WFF) selects a school as the Warm Wishes recipient in one of your four target neighborhoods. How did this all begin?
Kerry: We had our four target neighborhoods [Englewood, Humboldt Park, Lawndale and Austin] we wanted to reach because people were not going into those neighborhoods and helping out. There was a big need for it. We did some research and went around and saw the schools. We went into the neighborhoods and met the principals and we were fortunate enough to find Nash [Elementary School] and [Principal] Tresa Dunbar. You want to work with the schools no one hears about that are turned around from the bottom of the barrel. Now the kids at Nash are excelling in their reading and are above their grade level. Their math programs are doing better and the kids show up to school everyday and they are hungry to learn. When you go in and see the dynamic of the students, principal and their teachers it’s a no brainer, it really is.
Out of all of the work WFF does trying to improve the lives of children in and around Chicago do you have one moment that stands out?
Kerry: Seeing how much the kids are in love with Principal Dunbar and all she does. She makes them feel comfortable and she is like their second mom. School is their home. They spend more time there than they probably do at home. We’re on the ground, we go into the schools, we meet the students and their walls are up immediately when we first meet them but in an hour or two that wall is down and they are glad you are there. They want a hug, they want to feel important.
Can anyone get involved without necessarily writing a check?
Kerry: Come volunteer! We have programs all year long. We have hundreds of volunteers that sign up and we try to utilize them as much as we can. So for people who can’t write that check they can come out and spend an afternoon with the kids.
You have three children yourself, are you stopping here?
Sarah: Oh yes! We’re done.
What’s one thing you didn’t expect from parenting?
Sarah: You gotta laugh. There are times you are covered in all kinds of crazy science experiments and fluids and the kids are cryin’, you’re exhausted and you just look at that person and you know you’re doing it together.
Kerry: You have no idea what to expect, they send you home from the hospital and you don’t take a test, they’re like, “Here’s your kid, see you later!” I had to do more stuff for my driver’s license. You get to the end of the day when you’re exhausted and it’s been miserable and the kids are crying and fighting and right before you put them to bed they say that one thing that makes it all worth it. That is what was unexpected for me.
Does your oldest son want to grow up and be a baseball player like his dad?
Kerry: The oldest wants to be a marine biologist or a train conductor. It’s a toss up!
If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?
Sarah: I would say Al Capone, a Chicago guy. I’d like to go have a drink at The Green Mill, his old place.
That’s a great Chicago answer.
Kerry: Isn’t it? She like rehearsed it, it’s terrible. I think it’d be great to have a drink or four with Adam Sandler.
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