COMPETITIVE CHEER: Legendary Rochester coach Susan Wood retires

| March 10, 2022 | Comments (0)




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ROCHESTER HILLS — Susan Wood, the legendary competitive cheer coach from Rochester High School, announced her retirement Wednesday night, sending shock waves through the Michigan cheer community.

Wood notified some colleagues who sent out a text message to fellow coaches around the state. NorthOakland Sports was notified of her decision by three local coaches on Wednesday night.

Wood is the winningest and most respected coach in state history.

Wood gave an interview on March 8 less than 24 hours earlier and did not elude to a possible retirement. She was unavailable to comment on March 9 following the announcement.

“I still love the sport and never get burned out,” said Wood on Tuesday night and just four days after completing her 41st season as head coach — all at Rochester. “People always ask me how much longer I will continue to coach and I always tell them that I don’t know.”

Rochester finished fifth at Friday’s MHSAA Division 1 state finals at the DeltaPlex in Grand Rapids behind champion Rochester Adams, runner-up Rochester Stoney Creek, Plymouth and Hartland. The Falcons were in second place through two rounds of competition but suffered an untimely fall in Round III and fell down to fifth place in the final team standings of the eight-school field.

“We had a good group this season and even though it didn’t end the way we wanted it we still had a good season,” said Wood. “We were right there in contention until that point.”

Formerly Susan McVeigh before marrying in the early 2000s, Wood steps away after a brilliant career the saw Rochester become a state powerhouse spanning parts of five decades.

Wood’s Falcons claimed 14 MHSAA state championships between 1994 and 2017, five MCCA (Michigan Cheerleading Coaches Association) state titles, a total of three state runners in the MHSAA tournaments, three more state runner-ups performances in the MCCA, countless district, regional and league championships, and more than 100 invitational wins during her stellar career. A total of 36 times over the 41 seasons, Wood’s teams competed at the state finals in either the MHSAA or MCCA-format state tournaments. Rochester also competed in both the MHSAA and MCCA tournaments from 1994-97 before only competing in the MHSAA state tournaments from 1998 to the present.

The MCCA dropped its postseason-sanctioned tournaments following the 2006 season.

The MHSAA state tournaments first began in 1994 — the MHSAA became the first state high school sports governing body to add competitive cheer to its repertoire before the 1993-94 school year — and Wood was a driving force behind that movement.

During Wood’s first season at Rochester in 1981-82, Rochester did not compete in any MCCA-format invitationals, while placing 23rd out of 23 teams at the MCCA Class A state finals in 1983. In her third campaign in 1984, Rochester placed ninth in Class A for its first-ever top-10 state finals finish and the Falcons began to soar from there.

In 25 of the 29 MHSAA Class A/Division 1 seasons, Rochester qualified for the state finals — the most at the state’s Class A/Division 1 large-school division. To go along with the state-record 14 MHSAA state titles, the Falcons were also state runner-up four times and finished third three other times amongst its top finishes. Rochester won the first three MHSAA Class A state titles from 1994-96 and most recently captured its last state titles in back-to-back fashion in 2016 and 2017.

In the MCCA tournaments from 1983-1993, the Falcons posted three state runners-up showings and captured its first MCCA Class A state crown in 1989.

“I remember the very first year we didn’t compete in any competitions. I took my team to watch a couple of invitationals to see what it was all about,” recalled Wood, who graduated from Central Michigan University in 1981 and taught elementary school physical education in the Rochester Community Schools for nearly four decades before retiring from teaching in 2018.

“The very next year in 1982-83, our goal was to make it to the state finals and we ended up just getting through and finishing 23rd, which was last place. The next year in 1983-84 our goal was to try to make the top 10 and we ended up placing ninth. We were state runners-up in 1985 and finally won our first state title in 1989,” she continued.

Wood’s program demanded perfection, commitment and long hours of practices to reach the top or near the top of the pyramid on an annual basis. The Rochester Community Schools will begin a search for a new head coach in the upcoming weeks.

Wood is also a member of both the Rochester High School and MCCA Hall of Fame.



(all divisions and classifications; 1994-2022)

Rochester — 14

Gibraltar-Carlson — 11

Breckenridge — 10

Pewamo-Westphalia — 9

Grandville — 6

Richmond — 6

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep — 6

Chesaning — 5

Allen Park — 5

Michigan Center — 5

Hudson — 4

Rochester Adams — 3

Southgate Anderson — 3

Rochester Stoney Creek — 2

Comstock Park — 2

Grosse Ile — 2

Remus-Chippewa Hills — 2

Ovid-Elsie — 2

St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic — 2

Sterling Heights Stevenson — 1

Holland Christian — 1

Plainwell — 1

Grand Rapids Catholic Central — 1

Madison Heights Bishop Foley Catholic — 1

Gaylord — 1

Flat Rock — 1

North Muskegon — 1

Webberville — 1



MHSAA (14) — 2017, 2016, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1996, 1995, 1994

MCCA (5) — 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1989



MHSAA (4) —  2015, 2008, 1998, 1997

MCCA (3) — 1993, 1990, 1985



MHSAA (4) —  2018, 2004, 2000

MCCA (3) — 1992, 1991

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