Wendy Scholtens Wood (1969–)
Wendy Scholtens Wood, who later became an attorney in Little Rock (Pulaski County), was one of the greatest women’s basketball players in Arkansas history. Earning All-American honors for her play at both Southside High School in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and Vanderbilt University, she also played professional basketball in Japan before pursuing a legal career. She was later elected to a seat on the Arkansas Court of Appeals.
Wendy Scholtens was born on June 25, 1969, to John Dennis Scholtens and Carol Anne Scholtens in Geneva, Illinois, where her grandparents lived, but she grew up in Fort Smith, graduating from Southside High School in 1987. While the 6’4″ Scholtens also played volleyball and ran track, it was her basketball skill that truly set her apart. Over the course of her career, she led Southside to a 95–5 record. The team won three consecutive state titles as well as two overall state titles, with Scholtens as a three-time state tournament Most Valuable Player. Her senior year saw her average more than 25 points a game while also averaging 10 rebounds and 4.5 blocked shots per contest. It was a performance that earned her a place on Parade Magazine’s High School All-American team. She was also selected as Arkansas Player of the Decade.
Some college coaches had expressed concern that she might not be strong enough to be successful at the collegiate level, but she pursued college play anyway. Starring for Vanderbilt in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), the league that by all accounts was the nation’s best for women’s basketball, Scholtens flourished. She led the Vanderbilt Commodores to two Sweet Sixteen appearances in the NCAA tournaments, and she led the SEC in both scoring and rebounding from 1989 to 1991 after being named SEC Freshman of the Year in 1988. She was named to the all-SEC team in 1989, 1990, and 1991, and she was also named the Commodore Female Athlete of the Year in each of those three years. In 1990, she was selected to both the Kodak and U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s All-American team. She was also named the Tennessee Sports Writers’ Player of the Year. In 1999, she became the first Vanderbilt woman to have her jersey retired and was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. She was similarly honored by the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009, which was started only the previous year.
Scholtens received her bachelor’s degree in economics from Vanderbilt in 1991. She then fulfilled a long-time dream of playing professional basketball, spending a year in Tokyo, Japan, where she played for the DKB Bank of Tokyo team. Upon her return, she entered the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, from which she graduated with honors in 1996. It was there that she met fellow student Paul Wood, whom she later married.
Over the course of her legal career, Wendy Scholtens Wood has practiced with the Barber Law Firm in Little Rock and clerked for the Honorable Larry Vaught at the Arkansas Court of Appeals. She is a member of the Pulaski County, Arkansas, and American Bar Associations, as well as a member of the board of directors of Alzheimer’s Arkansas and the Rotary Club 99. In the fall of 2019, she was selected to the inaugural class of the Arkansas Bar Association’s Public Service Academy, a joint program developed by association and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service to support lawyers who have an interest in public service. In 2022, she was elected to a seat on the Arkansas Court of Appeals by a narrow margin against Saline County District Judge Stephanie Casady.
For additional information:
Boyd, Paul. “Scholtens-Wood Dominated on the Court in High School, College.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, July 7, 2019. Online at https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2019/jul/07/best-ever-20190707/?sports (accessed October 23, 2020).
“Wendy Scholtens Wood (Basketball, 1987–91).” Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame—Class of 2009. https://vucommodores.com/wendy-scholtens-wood/ (accessed October 23, 2020).
“Wendy Scholtens Wood.” Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. http://tshf.net/halloffame/scholtens-wood-wendy/ (accessed October 23, 2020).
William H. Pruden III
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