The longer I do this mind-dumping in the form of a blog, the more I patronize myself with thoughts about whether or not I deserve to eat up the personal time of those who read it.

So, first thing’s first, thank you for continuing to read it. Selfishly, I need to get it out and I consider the fact that some of you can relate to what I share as an unexpected bonus.


I’ve had a lot going on in my life lately as I bet the majority of you have to (ending in a preposition, throwing my hands in the air like I just don’t care).

My cousin, Tammy, passed away at the end of July and…with her…so went a chunk of my childhood. Sadness and loss always seem to bring my life clarity. As long as you can manage to keep your head above water and resist the urge to sink with the heaviness of your broken heart, losing someone close to you pushes perspective to the forefront.


Live kindly. Forgive freely. Accept love and don’t get caught up in trying to single-handedly pave your path. Trails are always better traveled together. We are only together (to laugh, to fight) for a short time after all.

The company I worked for the past four years was not successful in winning a new bid for business in my home state of Nebraska. By the grace of God, I was able to join a Fortune 500 company in the same industry entering our market for the first time. I went from not knowing what the future would hold at the end of this year, to embracing a new role in a fast-growing second family. I can already tell in my limited time with them that I will consider my coworkers as such.

I agreed to be the head coach of my daughter’s summer softball team and, with the help of a couple of equally motivated friends, pulled together a roster of boisterous girls who will compete together for the next several months. Time to put GiveTheGameBack into practice!

I stopped going into the radio once a week for fun. While the time I spent on air in the wee hours with a couple of my favorite people was more personally rewarding than any paycheck could ever be, I needed to start spending my mornings focused on other priorities.

My three children have each moved on academically, with my husband and I divying up pickup and dropoff duties at three different schools. Thanks to some neighborly love, that I’m confident I will never be able to truly pay back, we don’t have to do as much running around as we originally thought. (Shoutout to Melissa!)

It’s quite ironic as I assure all my kids that unique challenges and friendships are usually always a good thing, I too am once again trying to embrace the role as new kid on the block. I am quite literally practicing what I preach.

As I spill these thoughts onto my phone and reassure myself that sharing freely is more important than writing perfectly, I ask that you do the same. It doesn’t have to be in the form of a published blog. Just tell a friend, a spouse, or a confidant what’s been rolling around in your head and happening in your world. Or release your words into a journal for your eyes only.

Being able to tout my two cents has always been therapeutic to me. Seeing the impact my cousin had on others in her brief 36 years of life made me realize we never fully know how far our message will resonate.

I had a former high school classmate of mine reach out to me unexpectedly to thank me for some of the things I’ve done for him (without my knowledge). It’s a pretty surreal feeling to come to the realization that you, like a pebble tossed into a glassy lake, can have a silent ripple effect. You do. We all do.

I continue to train this week for my new professional challenge. I also simultaneously strive to maintain a deep appreciation of what’s really important in life.

Written by Heidi Woodard 

About a year ago, I wrote a piece about how my son was shifting (youth sports) careers as an 11-year old. It was hard to write, not because the words were difficult to articulate, but because it’s a somewhat touchy subject.

Several parents reached out to me following that post to say they had been through the same process (of switching teams) or were on the verge of going through it with their own son or daughter.

I wasn’t able to gaze into a crystal ball back then to see if it would all work out for my son…we just researched what was offered in our area, talked about all of our options, and trusted our gut instincts.

Fast forward one year to now and I can clearly see how great of a decision it’s been for him. But more on that in a sec.

A mom recently contacted me through GiveTheGameBack to say that she was shocked to learn her daughter wanted to quit softball after several successful playing years. The mom was once a softball player herself and gained many valuable life lessons through the sport. She was worried her daughter was already burnt out at a young age before she’d even had the chance to experience her (potentially) best playing days.

I offered several paragraphs of feedback, but here’s the part I really hoped she would contemplate, “My next question is a very important one: How intrinsically motivated to succeed and/or naturally competitive is your daughter? One of the biggest realities I’ve had to accept is that each of my kids, although all ‘formed’ by my own and my husband’s DNA, is unique in how they approach sports.”

Without knowing her daughter’s individual situation, I can’t assume that her daughter has completely lost the love of the game. She could feel burnt out like her mom feared, or want to quit because she thinks she’s inferior, or she might have different priorities in her life as compared to a few years ago, or who knows? I’ve found the only ways for a parent to know how their child feels is to never assume anything and by discussing the child’s goals through open and honest dialogue.

The other piece of advice I added, because I’ve had to grow up along with my kids in my own thinking and behaving is, “If my dad was a Chief Financial Officer and I grew up knowing that he loved math and wanted me to be his prodigy, there’s no amount of pushing in the world that would transform me into someone who loves math.”

Back to my son.

I knew without a shadow of a doubt following last season that he still wanted to play baseball. How did I know? By asking him…many times.

If he would have said he didn’t want to play, I would have pressed to find out what he was intrinsically motivated to do. How would he measure success or growth? How could I help him get there?

My son loves playing baseball (and basketball and football) with friends. He cares if he wins or loses, but his mood and demeanor don’t plummet in the face of adversity. He hates letting people down and loves making people laugh. And I’m not a betting woman, but if I was, I’d wager he has 847 different things on his mind at any given second…and that doesn’t magically shut off with the first pitch.

Knowing all of these things about him, he accepted/filled a spot on a team this summer that brought together a hodgepodge of players, many of whom had played ball for years but also had never competed together before.

His team’s coaches took every game seriously without sacrificing the fun, helped my son and others with their mental approach to the sport, taught them how to recover from setbacks, led by example, and promoted a team culture of mutual respect and reliance upon one another – all of the great life lessons one can garner through athletics.

I have zero doubt my son will remember this summer for years to come…for both what’s taken place on AND off the field.

Through this new team, he has gained a best friend – unexpected icing on the cake! I can’t put into words how amazing it feels to see your kid “click” with a teammate who shares the same quirky interests and who comes from a family very similar to your own.

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My advice to all the parents of youth baseball players this time of year remains the same: Commit to a team that makes sense for your individual child. (No one is giving out scholarships or scouting your 12-year old. This is an age to learn and have fun.)

Don’t get trapped into a fixed mindset or allow fear of the unknown to paralyze you. Adults tend to muddy the waters even with the best of intentions sometimes.

I know I had to learn that the definition of a successful season isn’t always measured in wins and losses. A season lasts a finite number of games. A great friendship has the potential of lasting a lot longer.

Written by Heidi Woodard

Last Christmas, my husband and I decided to bite the bullet and purchase an in-ground basketball hoop for our three children as well as their neighborhood friends.

Unbeknownst to them, I like to call it my hostage hoop.

I call it that because it is easy for me to see that the years of them all being safe and sound hanging out in our driveway are slipping by at a painful pace. They don’t realize nor do they care that I consider this space, this hoop, their one true play zone where I am still able to watch over and protect them.

I am holding their childhoods hostage as long as I can.

The thump, thump, thump of their dribbling and the swish, clank, clank, CLANK, swish of their shots provide the music – a symphony of sorts – for our family’s summer playlist.

Yes, there are occasional (always) fights…fouls not being called, points not being tallied up correctly, an errant elbow thrown here or there…but mainly it’s an activity, from a shrinking pool of activities they share in common despite their ages, that they gladly do together. And that makes me both happy and sad.

I wonder what it will be like when my husband and I look out at that same driveway and only see the hoop staring back at us? When the sounds of dribbling, laughter, arguments, and celebrations are silenced?

For now, I don’t want to look that far ahead. Rather, I will look back and cherish all of the beautiful memories and blessings that have been bestowed upon us over the years.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing. – George Bernard Shaw

 

hoop dreams

The hostage hoop.

basketball hoop installation.jpg

Both boys helped in the installation process, not necessarily willingly.

Hoop dreams 2

There is little struggle greater in life than a boy trying to shoot a layup against his much taller brother.

Hoop dreams 3.jpg

Taking full advantage of as many daylight hours as possible.

Owen and Jaycee

Little sister defending the crossover.

Owen and Ryan 2.jpg

Back when they didn’t mind showing public affection to one another.

mom and Owen

Back when I realized I was no longer looking down at him when we spoke.

Owen and Ryan

Officially taller than dad. 8th grade year.

Owen bball Halloween 2015

Keep on dreaming big, kid.

Owen Austin baseball

Yes, I know I jumped from basketball to baseball. But how did these little guys grow up so fast? I remember when they only needed their shoes to be tied and a bag of Big League Chew to guarantee a good day at the ballpark.

Owen Austin Heidi

Now here we are…zipping through childhood at warp speed.

Austin baseball catcher

The time he was so excited to try on catcher’s gear.

Jaycee softball catcher

The time she was so excited to try on catcher’s gear.

football2

The reason why little sister’s future boyfriends better watch out.

Owen Austin Jaycee

Times were a little crazier when they were small, but ironically, looking back, they also seemed slower.

all kids 2

It’s hard these days to keep up…and that’s not for a lack of trying.

Owen Austin Ryan

How lucky they are to have a great dad guiding them on their life’s path. How lucky their dad is to have them as his sons.

Owen Austin Ryan 3

The three Atlanta Braves fans.

Written by Heidi Woodard