Hometown Horns: Kingwood, Texas
Kingwood, Texas, located 23 miles north of downtown Houston is known for being a community that exists in harmony with nature. Though it boasts a population of over 65,000, Kingwood is heavily wooded and canopied with tall pine, oak and magnolia trees.
Residents of Kingwood enjoy an active lifestyle with over 75 miles of greenbelt jogging, hiking and biking trails, two country clubs and many youth sports teams. It is no wonder then that three Longhorn athletes call Kingwood home.
Soccer senior , volleyball's , and baseball's all shared the halls of Kingwood High School and now roam the Forty Acres.
Hall, a goalkeeper, just wrapped up her soccer career as the Longhorns finished No. 8 in the national rankings this season. This year, she played in five games, allowing no goals in 217 minutes. Her career has spanned four impressive years and as a freshman she tied for fifth on the UT single-season chart for shutouts with four.
In high school Hall lettered only one year as a goalkeeper for Kingwood High School as she left to play for the Challenge Soccer Club travel team. She played goalkeeper, midfielder and forward and helped the team finish third at the USYS Nationals in 2002 after winning the Snickers Regional Championships and the Disney Tournament. Hall also played on the U.S. Under-16 and Under-17 national teams from 2002-2003.
"Living in Kingwood taught me a lot about being competitive," Hall said. "There were a lot of athletic people who lived there, so you could always find someone to play with, or there was always a league to play in when we were younger."
Andrew, a senior setter, became the third true-freshman starting setter in Texas Volleyball history and played every point of every match that year. In 2005, Andrew trained with the USA Volleyball A2 Team. Now she and the rest of the Longhorns are enjoying success playing in the NCAA Tournament as the No. 8 team in the nation.
"I'll never forget my senior volleyball season, eight seniors on the team, and two of which were my best friends." Andrew said as she reminisced about her favorite memories of growing up in Kingwood. "Another favorite memory would be dressing up in the elementary school plays with my best friend from first grade, bumble bees in particular. Also, I just loved watching my little sister grow up and being so close with her."
The Kingwood Mustangs won four straight District 22-5A Championships while Andrew was setter for Coach Krista Malstrom. A four-year letterwinner, she was selected as the District 22-5A MVP, third-team all-state selection, and Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 recruit all in 2003. She also played club volleyball for the Texas Tornadoes which won the Las Vegas Invitational and Mideast Qualifier in 2002.
Wood, a left-handed hurler for the Longhorns, is a sophomore at UT. In his first year, he led Texas and ranked fourth in the Big 12 in total appearances (35) and also made one start on the year. As a freshman, Wood held opposing batters to a .241 batting average, the second lowest on the team, and owned the third-best ERA among Texas pitchers (3.15). In addition he was named a first-team Freshman All-American in Collegiate Baseball and second-team All-Big 12.
Wood earned two letters as a pitcher and first baseman at Kingwood for Coach David Denny, a former Longhorn All-American. During that time, he led the Mustangs to the state semifinals in 2004 and to the 5A state title in 2005. He also received All-State honors as a senior recording a 14-2 mark and a 1.25 ERA with 120 strikeouts over 91 innings.
This young southpaw gives credit to his hometown for some of the successes he has had in baseball.
"I think Kingwood takes a lot of pride in its athletics," Wood said. "The athletic program and the support that comes along with it are second to none in Kingwood. In 2005, when our baseball team won the state championship along with basketball and swimming it was the first time in history that any Texas high school athletic program has one all three of those sports in one year."
Andrew echoed Hall's sentiments about her hometown breeding competitiveness.
"Kingwood wins the district championship every year across the board in their athletic programs," Andrew said. "I was very lucky to grow in such a competitive atmosphere in the classroom and on the court. These disciplines and all of my hard work have reflected into my life and everything I do."
A master-planned community, designed by the Friendswood Development Company, the town was opened in 1970 and quickly became one of the most popular suburbs of Houston.
"Kingwood is one of Houston's best suburbs because our schools are always highly ranked in the state," Wood added. "There is very little crime in Kingwood, and Kingwood presents itself as a town with a 'small town' atmosphere yet it is fairly big."
"It is a great place to live because it has nice homes and a lot of things to offer," Hall said, "but at the same time it is very wooded so it gives the feel that you aren't just in a suburb."
Kingwood's 15,000 wooded acres will be home to approximately 70,000 residents when completed in five years. The town is divided into twenty-one planned "villages" and there are three more being developed. In 1996, Houston annexed Kingwood, although it retains its "Kingwood, TX" mailing address.
Although Andrew loves Austin's culture and uniqueness, she still enjoys going back home.
"Kingwood has grown tremendously and turned into its own little city over the years," Andrew said. "Every time I make it back home for the holidays I have to go to my favorite little Italian place, Hasta La Pasta, with my family and friends. I also love working out on the high school track and running around the block at home with my dog. It brings back a lot of good memories of growing up and training."
With amenities for people of all ages, and a safe family oriented environment, these Longhorn athletes are happy to call Kingwood home but it is all of this and the abundance of nature that make the town live up to its name: The Livable Forest.