Archives For Bellevue West

On a semi-steamy day back in July 1999, I said “I do” to not only my husband, Ryan, but also to a lifetime of basketball.

You see, for those who don’t know, my husband is the son of a legendary basketball coach in and around the Midwest, Doug Woodard. My father-in-law has coached for an eternity. I’m sure there’s an actual number of years I could plug in there, but the past 17 years have been at Bellevue West High School leading the defending Class A State Championship Thunderbirds team.

doug woodard

Doug Woodard and the Bellevue West Thunderbirds. Photo c/o Omaha World-Herald

Before Bellevue West, he dedicated his time and talent to Omaha Roncalli Catholic High School. It was at Roncalli where he coached both of his sons and where my husband and I met in one of those weird classrooms that brought together a perfection-seeking honor roll girl with a slightly cocky boy who rarely opened a book outside of the classroom. It was at that same high school where Ryan and I played our best years of basketball, not knowing back then that we’d one day have three kids of our own learning how to play a game they love.

Before Roncalli, Doug coached student athletes at Bellevue Christian High School. And he still hears from those same kids even now, over two decades later, which is equally amazing and inspiring to me.

And I’d imagine that, before Bellevue Christian, Doug was thinking of ways to transition from playing a sport at which he excelled to coaching his own kids and other people’s kids on the proper ways to pass, dribble, box out, rebound, and shoot (in my husband’s case, ESPECIALLY shoot).

My sister-in-laws both played summer basketball for their dad and then went on to compete at my collegiate alma mater, Creighton University. Considering they have basketball in their blood, I am still amazed that the Woodard clan accepted me – a collegiate softball player – into their hard court crew.

The Woodard cheering section at the 2014 Nebraska High School Boys State Basketball Tournament.

The Woodard cheering section at the 2014 Nebraska High School Boys State Basketball Tournament. What? Doesn’t everyone wear matching shirts in March?

Ryan has now coached our oldest son and his teammates, the Junior TBirds, for the past six years and will both mentor them and learn from them in their final season – as eighth graders – next year. I think I’ve had nearly all of those boys in my kitchen and driveway at some point. I’ve watched them transition from simply learning how to dribble the ball to orchestrating moves that I know I personally would not be able to defend.

Last night, Ryan sent out his end of season thank you email to all of the players’ parents. He told them he will be discussing their son’s player evaluations one-on-one with each boy this weekend. He will guide these young men on what he considers to be their strengths as well as areas they can improve upon over the summer.

These players have one more year to work on their game before moving on to high school, a leap that history has proven some boys will make and others may not. I want to cup each of their faces in my hands, look at them straight in their eyes, and say “Enjoy every moment because they are some of the most fun and fastest fleeting you will ever experience in your lives.”

Ryan doesn’t hear it nearly enough, but I feel really lucky to be married to him. When it comes to the influence that both he and his father have on young men’s lives both on and off the court, I feel like the apple does not fall too far from the tree. I can confidently say that I married into a good bushel.

One downside of having basketball in the blood? Our own children will never have perfect school attendance…at least not on those years when grandpa’s team makes it to the state tournament!

Here’s wishing all of the state qualifiers good luck this year down in Lincoln.

Boys Class A State Tournament Bracket

state basketball class A

Boys All Classes Tournament Brackets

In terms of high school memories, I'd imagine it doesn't get much better than this. Photo c/o Lincoln Journal Star

In terms of high school memories, I’d imagine it doesn’t get much better than this. Just ask the 2014 State Champs Bellevue West Thunderbirds. Photo c/o Lincoln Journal Star

Written by Heidi Woodard


Ssshhhhh. Do you hear that? It’s the sound of hardwood nirvana – on the college court, on the high school court, and in the Woodard household.

Sportscasters and fans alike like to refer to this time of year as “March madness,” but to me, it is a moment every year where basketball players have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to convert their dreams into reality.

I graduated from Creighton University, home of the Bluejays and a special basketball player named Doug McDermott. I could go on and on about what this young man has meant to my alma mater, but here are a few highlights worth mentioning:

– National Player of the Year

– Son of the head coach, Greg McDermott (one of the coolest father/son relationships I’ve ever seen)

– Holds Big East tournament single game scoring record (he sunk 35 points last night in Creighton’s first game in the Big East tournament, in a far tougher battle field as compared to the Missouri Valley Conference the university left last year)

– Pictured on the latest issue of Sports Illustrated in a throw-back, Larry Bird inspired cover

c/o Sports Illustrated

c/o Sports Illustrated 1977 & 2014

– Surpassed the NCAA college basketball 3,000 points mark at home in front of a record breaking crowd in Omaha, Nebraska (scored a mere 45 points that game)

– Heading into tonight’s game against Xavier, sits at #7 on the NCAA all-time scoring leaders list (must score at least 20 points to jump to #5)

– Doubted his own potential to succeed in basketball and once considered retiring from his playing days to become a team manager for his dad

– Thanks his family, his teammates, and his university every chance he gets – both privately and in front of the media

– Can score from literally anywhere on the court  (Think I’m exaggerating? Watch this gif pinpointing every place on the court he scored from last night.)


My two sisters-in-law played basketball at Creighton. And I played softball there. Now you know why I bleed blue.

Here’s an understatement for you: I married into a family that somewhat appreciates the game of basketball.

I personally transformed from a player who played the sport in high school to keep myself in shape during the off-season into a mom who voluntarily pulls her kids out of school to support their grandpa and future high school in the postseason.

The Woodard clan (L to R): My daughter on my shoulders, my husband, my mother-in-law, my two nephews, my brother-in-law, my sisters-in-law, and another brother-in-law

The Woodard clan (L to R): My daughter on my shoulders, my husband, my mother-in-law, my two nephews, my brother-in-law, my sisters-in-law, and another brother-in-law. Yep…we’re that family rocking the matching shirts.

My father-in-law was my former teacher in high school and coached my husband and my brother-in-law nearly two decades ago in basketball.

He continued to coach throughout the years and decided to move from our smaller high school, Roncalli Catholic – where his team won a state basketball championship in Class B in 1996 – to coach at one of the larger high schools in the city where we live now. During his time at Bellevue West, the TBirds have won three state championships in boys basketball: 2000, 2004, and 2005.

They’re back competing in the NSAA State Tournament at the same time their college idols are playing in their respective post-season conference tournaments.

They just dethroned the four-time defending Class A state champion Central Eagles in their tournament opener last night. They’ll face the Norfolk Panthers tonight in the semifinal.

They are hungry.

That makes me happy.

I know I’m not alone when I say this is a special time of year. My hope is that, no matter what the score reads when that final buzzer sounds, these young men can step outside of themselves and fully appreciate this amazing chapter in their lives.

Written by Heidi Woodard