Archives For Family

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.


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


Sharing Wisdom Series3

If you’d like to read the first two installments of this series, you can find those here and here.

doug woodard

Doug Woodard with members of the 2013-2014 Nebraska State Champion Bellevue West Thunderbird boys basketball team; File photo c/o Omaha World-Herald


I’ve looked up to this next coach as a personal role model for well over half my life. He is not only one of the top high school basketball coaches in Nebraska, he’s also my father-in-law and my former World History teacher. The fact that he got me interested at all in World History speaks volumes for his innate ability to motivate kids.

Doug Woodard has coached high school varsity boys basketball for over 25 years and is entering his 18th at Class A Bellevue West High School in Bellevue, Nebraska. Doug has had five separate teams win State Championship titles under his leadership (1996, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2014), as well as coached three State Runner-Up teams.

He’s been named Coach of the Year 10 times by different media and organizations. Doug has also administered and directed the Omaha Sports Academy Crusader summer basketball program, which has seen more than 200 student-athletes acquire college scholarships.

I’ve personally seen the amount of time and dedication that Doug puts into coaching young men and can say with utmost confidence that he is as interested (perhaps even more interested) in guiding them off the court as he is when they’re on the court. In addition to coaching the Thunderbird basketball team, he also serves as Dean of Students at Bellevue West High School, has spoken at coaching clinics and basketball programs throughout the Midwest, and has presented at corporate training sessions for Union Pacific, ConAgra Foods, and Hudl.

Although I was particularly interested in hearing his answer to the question, Seriously, how did you put up with Ryan (my husband) for the first 18 years of his life?, my actual questions and his corresponding responses appear below.

Q1: You’ve been coaching high-level varsity boys basketball for over 25 years. How do you think your communication style has evolved over the years with your student-athletes?

Doug’s Response: There are two major areas where I feel it has been necessary to alter my approach: The first is in using more of a collaborative style attempting to give the reasons why certain things are done (required). The days of simply saying do this and don’t question are over. It is critical to achieve “buy-in” that today’s athletes see a reason or justifiable rationale for the techniques or systems being used.

The second is to communicate in shorter segments due to societal trends that have helped shorten the attention span of this generation. Video needs to be shown in abbreviated sections for instance, as watching an entire game is not conducive to good learning or retention. The tension is to try to adjust one’s techniques without compromising in areas that you feel are core principles and therefore not dependent on societal or cultural transition.

Q2: Who would you consider to be a coaching mentor and why?

Doug’s Response: My old high school coach, John Johnette, is one who I see as a mentor.  One of the reasons is that I feel Coach Johnette was way ahead of his time. He wanted us to shoot in 8-12 seconds and this was during the 1970’s!

He used techniques and strategies that lived outside the norm and was never afraid of innovation. He also used as his core philosophy to be true to one’s self. He thought if you coached true to your beliefs and philosophy that, at the end of the day, you could take great satisfaction in a job well done…regardless of the result. I remember after we lost in the semi-finals of the state tournament, he told us that the result of the game is never what is important…it is what happens subsequent to that result that will determine if it was a net positive or negative in one’s life.

In this way, a loss in districts could be viewed as a “better” result long-term than winning a state championship if one uses that loss in a positive sense as opposed to one who, as a result of the state championship, makes negative or destructive decisions.

Q3: What are the major lessons learned in basketball that can be carried over into a young man’s life well after his competitive playing days are done?

Doug’s Response: There are so many, but to highlight a couple: The importance of being part of something larger than one’s self and the corresponding need to sacrifice…at times…what is in your personal best interests for the good of the team. Ironically, this selfless approach will, in the long run, bring greater personal success and accomplishment.

A related lesson is that each member of the team has a role and that every role is important to the overall success of the team/organization. This is one reason why so many successful leaders in business have come from the athletic realm. The obvious traits of discipline and work ethic are things that will carry one far in whatever career or endeavor they choose.

Successful basketball teams are built on trust – trust among teammates as well as trust between players and coaches. A culture of trust is one that is critical to long-term success, be it in business, education, or any other vocation in life.

The Sharing Wisdom: A Series of Coaching Perspectives is written by Heidi Woodard.

The one who sat on my lap and listened to bedtime stories first…is now officially a young man.

When did the Bob the Builder lunch bag, the Pokemon cards, and the high voice disappear?

I look up at him and the reality sinks in that his reliance on me and his dad is fleeting. Here in this moment, yet ever so translucent, like the cloud of air released by breath on a January day in Nebraska. Gone tomorrow.

I had to learn to let him go…from my lap, from the special reading spot, from the longer conversations, from his shared bedroom with his brother, from the extended hugs.

But I realized, only through letting him go, am I able to witness how far he is capable of soaring himself.

I feel in my heart that I did well even when my head starts to doubt.

Is he ready?
Will he get hurt?
Does he know I’ll never judge him?
That we all make mistakes?
That true love is hard?
Will he embrace his potential?
Without a shadow of doubt?
Will he remain humble?
Can I still hold his hand (when no one’s looking)?

The most ironic thing is that I still remember rocking him back and forth in his first bedroom with walls adorned in Noah’s arc stencils, the bunk beds, and the hard wood floors.

In that time and place when I was practically busting at the seams with his brother in my belly and having little room left on my lap, I worried and wondered as I turned the book pages, Will he be ok when he no longer has me for just himself?


The answer is a resounding YES. He is ok.

I, on the other hand, am only doing so-so.

Happy 14th birthday. Your dad and I are so very lucky to have been blessed with you and cannot wait to see what life has in store for you.