Woody Barnes was there when the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary played the first night football game in Foreman Field. And he was there when the Division opened a new gym that is now part of ODU's old administration building.
The three-sport star from South Norfolk scored two touchdowns as the Norfolk Division Braves won, 13-8. He also scored the winning free throw as the Braves won the opening basketball game, 50-49, in two overtimes.
When Foreman field opened in 1936, it was the best in Virginia, and the gym was highly regarded. In their confines, Barnes and his teammates, coached by Tommy Scott, earned competitive respect from two-year and four-year colleges.
"In 1935, we won six straight football games including one from the freshmen of William and Mary, our parent school and biggest rival," Barnes remembers. "We finished 8-1. The record wasn't quite as good the next two years, because we were playing larger schools, but coach Scott sad the 1937 eleven was his greatest. His record of 54-19-4 indicates that team was good."
Originally an end, the 6-0, 155-lb. Barnes was moved to quarterback and won credit from one newspaper for throwing a touchdown pass to himself. Teammate Johnny Brown, on ODU Sports Hall of Famer who caught that pass, protested: "Woody, I know you're good but you're not that good."
As a basketball forward, Barnes helped the Braves to 10-6, 8-8 and 15-4 records, and captained the 1936-37 squad.
The New York Yankees recruited Barnes as a pitcher who consistently won for the Division by throwing a lot of breaking pitches and a submarine fast ball but he chose not to sign.
He was named as the best all-around athlete in Tidewater in 1937.
Before turning down offers from other colleges and attending the Division, Barnes helped South Norfolk High win the state class B basketball championship and the Tidewater Scholastic Baseball League.
Barnes later played amateur and semi-pro football, baseball and basketball for a variety of area teams. He quit after attending a revival in North Carolina. He has since made more than 1,500 trips from his Chesapeake home to preach and teach Sunday School in North Carolina churches. "I want to be on the all-star team in heaven, too." he said.