The basketball team, annually ranked among the top in the area, has compiled a 50-6 record over three years. The track team is one of the best in the area . . . on the East Coast, for that matter.
The tennis team, which is coed, is always competitive. The swimming team, also coed, has won four Interhigh championship in six years.
No, we're not talking about fine young men. These are young women -- and fine athletes every one. They hail from H. D. Woodson High School, a school with an obvious difference.
When the high-rise school's doors opened in 1971, its administration made a strong commitment to sports equality. The dividends have been windfall. Their girls' program, in particular, probably has had more overall success than any other in the District.
A main ingredient in the success of any program is the people it attracts. Include Woodson in that. "I have found that we attract a special breed of athletes here at Woodson," Bob Headen, athletic director at the for Northeast school, said. "They may not be the most talented, but all of them are willing to work hard and make sacrifices in order to achieve."
Headen, who coaches girls' basketball and softball as well as football, used Angela Davis, one of his basketball standouts, as an example. "Our starting center lacked a lot of skills when she went out for the team two years ago as a sophomore, but she has worked very hard to overcome her deficiencies and has now blossomed into one of the best centers in the area."
With five starters back from last year, this year's team could be the best ever, finishing 10-0 in league play and 17-1 overall. The Wariorettes are led by the gifted Tonya Wigfall, who earned All-Met honors last season, scoring a 17-point average and grabbing 10 rebounds a contest. She is generally considered the best all-around female player in Washington and one of the finest in the country.Guards Rene Loving and Terry Austin, forward Joyce Griffin and center Davis complete as good a starting five as you'll find anywhere.
A track meet without Woodson girls is like a basketball game without a ball. Go to any top high school meet and you are sure to spot the red, green and black-clad Warriorette runners. Since Tom Gomillion took over as coach six years ago, the team has set a national record in the mile relay (1977) and has won no less than 16 indoor and outdoor titles. They have been invited to run in meets in Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania and Jamaica.
Charlita Whitehead, perhaps the top quarter-miler in the area, Cecile Carter, a member of the record-holding 1977 quartet, and Leslie Humphries, a versatile performer, are standouts on Woodson's 1979-80 team.
Gomillion said winning seems innate in his team members. "When we compete in a meet, we are not always consciously trying to win it. But there is such a great amount of pride in achieving at this school that the girls usually end up winning."
While Woodson's success with girls' track has helped lure many outstanding athletes to the school, Whitehead, who runs every race as if it were a championship, said she feels the demands of that success have turned off some potential athletes in the past couple of years.
"Most people who are into track know that Woodson has a good program and good coaches," she explained, "But once they get here or find out that a lot of time and hard work is required to be successful, they suddenly change their minds, go elsewhere or quit."
Success also breeds jealousy, but Whitehead said it is minimal at Woodson.
"Sure, there are some people here who are envious of our success and publicity. You are always going to have that.
"But there are also more than enough people who strongly support us. In fact, we have a large following that comes out in our local meets and supports us."
Bruce Bradford, a former All-Met performer at Cardozo, has coached swimming at Woodson since 1971. His job has been a pleasure since day one, he said. "I've been extremely fortunate to work with some outstanding young ladies over the years. Several of them have gone on to college to do quite well. That's what really matters the most."
Naming Michelle Becton captain of the coed swimming team is not tokenism, he said. "She is just as talented and able to lead as any male-athlete."
Becton, a senior with a cumulative 3.4 (B-plus) grade point average, said the male members of the team have accepted her as leader without any hesitation.
"At first I had reservations about being female and captain of a coed team, but everyone has made me feel pround of being captain," she said. "But when I think about it, it is not really unusual, because that's the way things are at Woodson anyway."
Whenever tennis is mentioned at Woodson, the first name that comes to mind is Wigfall. Tonya Wigfall, a 5-foot-7 senior with the smooth strike and powerful serve, is unequaled in singles play. She is undefeated in three years of Interhigh competition. She is the top-ranked woman player in the area and one of the top junior players in the country.
Her coach, Bradford, says she is so impressive that he has found it hard to get other girls to go out for the team for fears they will not get recognition. gWith a 3.4 grade point average, she is the object of recruiting efforts by a number of colleges and universities.
The Woodson commitment to excellence in girls' athletics does not stop on the court, in the pool or on the track. It extends to the classroom as well.
On a bulletin board in the school's main hallway is a long list of students who have earned at least a 3.0 (or a B) grade point average. The names of several female athletes are included. In fact, 17 young women from the track, basketball, tennis and swimming teams are on the list.
Headen said academic accomplishment is part of the Woodson system. "The coaches work closely with the teachers to monitor the student-athletes' progress. We get progress report cards from them periodically to see if they are doing well or not.
"After graduation, we keep a check on where they go to college and how they are doing. In fact, all the girls who have played basketball for me over the years have gone to college."
Vinnie Freeman, Coordinator of Girl's Athletics for D.C. Public Schools and a longtime observer of women's sports in the District, has her own views on why the Woodson formula has worked.
"The esprit de corps at Woodson is unbelievable," she said. "It is reflected in the school program among the coaches, teachers and students. It permeates the student body. We are very proud of them and their accomplishments in girls' athletics."