Archives For coach

Let me be the first to admit, I’ve learned to tame my competitive nature over the years and make the sporting experience more about my kids than myself. I like to say I’m a work in progress.

I’ve recounted My Moment on GiveTheGameBack. I remember that critical point in time when I realized I need to reevaluate why I was at the ball field supporting my child and have subsequently changed my mentality and approach to the GAME.

However, prior to that moment, there was an episode when I behaved less than ideally in front of my children. I think it’s important to explain (not justify) my past behavior to let you know that I, like everyone, learn from my mistakes. For those who refuse to admit ever crossing the line at a youth sporting competition in the name of your budding athlete, I counter with two thoughts: 1. I bow down to you and your self-control and 2. I don’t believe you. (not even for a second)

There we were, the Woodard family, back in fall ball several years ago: me, my husband, and our three children.

Allow me to set the stage. The “regular season” for baseball in the Midwest runs from late April to early July. Fall ball, in terms of scheduled games, lasts half the total duration but feels like an eternity to suffer through. The number of teams competing is less, the quality of competition isn’t always as great, and the double-headers that typically round off an otherwise restful weekend are grueling.

OK, I fully admit I am already making excuses, but bear with me.

My oldest was only 10 at the time. Ten-year-old boys can best be described as fourth grade, 4-ft somethings, with less than laser-like focus. While they all generally have an interest in winning, the majority of them compete in fall ball to hang out with their buddies. (Coaches will tell you it’s because the boys want to stay active and improve their game in the off season.)

My son’s team was down by at least a half dozen runs and, in 10-year old baseball…especially fall ball, that’s a deep valley out of which to climb. It was late in the game so they ran the risk of losing by the “mercy rule” (which they might as well rename the “parental sanity rule”). Definition of the “mercy rule”: Once a team is up by 8 runs after 5 complete innings over their competition, the game is automatically over.

My son’s teammate managed to make it to second base…probably on a wild pitch, or just a normal pitch since few 10-year old catchers are strong enough to throw out a runner stealing second base.

It was very late in the game and the chances of my kid’s team mounting a comeback were slimmer than Kim Kardashian going a full day without snapping a selfie. Not high. You get the picture.

Low and behold, I hear the opposing team’s coach yell out instructions and then see the pitcher throw to the short stop at second base in an attempted pickoff play. When the pickoff attempt didn’t work, instead of tossing the ball back to the pitcher, the short stop walks it to the mound.

I instantly knew what was happening. The ol’ hidden ball trick. I knew what was going down because I’ve pulled that same play in my college alumni game against the current players.

If you’ve never seen the hidden ball trick, watch the YouTube clip below.

My son’s teammate assumes the pitcher has the ball, takes his normal leadoff, and falls for the play (because he’s 10!) as the opposing team’s short stop tags him out, much to the amusement of their coach.

Here’s a confession: If I was that kid at shortstop (or anyone else on that opposing team), I would have thought that was the greatest trick play ever.

Because I was not that 10-year old shortstop and was instead the mom of one of the boys getting their butts kicked by a team coached by a dad who cared more about trick plays than teachable moments, I didn’t find it quite as amusing. And I let him know about it. I think my exact less-than-mature-and-not-very-thought-out words were something like this:

GOOD JOB, COACH! WAY TO PERFECT THE HIDDEN BALL TRICK! YOU MUST BE SO PROUD!

(Lame, I know. But I’ve never been the best at articulating anger.)

If your team is only winning by one or two runs and it’s the championship game, you could probably make me understand your rationale (even if I don’t agree with it). When you are about to run-rule another team, I don’t buy your excuse.

Not to be outdone by a loud-mouthed mom, the coach in turn had one of his players steal home in mid-pitch when they were up to bat next.

I just shook my head and thought to myself, “What a (insert male body part) move.”

But here’s the thing, I was no better than that coach that day. I ran my mouth from the stands and it didn’t make the situation any better. Luckily, my son never heard what I yelled, but that didn’t make me feel any less foolish in hindsight

Their team still lost. My son wouldn’t have cared that much about the game’s outcome because he’d already been competing in sports (even at the age of 10) for a few years and he learned that, in sports and life, you win some and you lose some.

If I ran into that same coach today, I would freely admit to being as crazy competitive as he is, and I would hope we would share a laugh together. I’d tell him that he should check out what I’m trying to do on GiveTheGameBack.

And when he’d be pulling up the website on his phone, I’d sucker punch him when he wasn’t looking and yell out TRICK PLAY! as he was attempting to regain his breath. Kidding…I would only contemplate doing that. I am working on thinking before I act these days.

Written by Heidi Woodard

Advertisements

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

If you know someone who knows someone who knows Theresa McDermott, please pass this along to her.

I intentionally let a few days pass before writing this post to you, Mrs. McDermott. I figured you and your family needed time to unwind and reflect on the last four years, your son’s amazing senior season, and that heart wrenching final game.

I mean, it’s not everyday that you go from feeling top of the world to bottom of the barrel in a matter of minutes: 40 minutes to be exact.

After all of the well-deserved accolades achieved by your son, Doug, throughout his collegiate career, I have got to imagine that you and your husband, Coach “Mac,” are still pinching yourselves to ensure it wasn’t all just a dream.

Although I’ve never met you, I believe you and I share a few things – albeit small things – in common.

I also married my college sweetheart and love him even more today than I did on our wedding day. We too went on to have three children together: two boys and a girl – the same ratio as your kids in the same birth order. My husband coaches our oldest in basketball just like yours does. There are times I want to simply sit back in the stands like every other parent with no connection to the coach, but I can’t because I’m watching the man I love mentor (and yell at) the boy I love. Although you didn’t graduate from Creighton like I did, I am willing to bet you bleed blue like the rest of us by now.

As I sat and watched Creighton get beat (sadly, beaten) by Baylor last Sunday, I thought about what it would be like to be in your shoes…or in your seat to be more specific.

Theresa McDermott captures one final memory of her husband, Greg, and son, Doug, sharing the court together.

Theresa McDermott captures one final memory of her husband, Greg, and son, Doug, sharing the court together.

Watching you want to comfort your son as he subbed out of his final collegiate game, but knowing in your heart that you couldn’t, tore me apart. I imagine the feeling wasn’t all that different from how you felt over two decades ago when you had to sit helplessly on the sidelines as little Dougie received his immunization shots. Or just a few years back when he wasn’t seen as the all star standout – far from it – on his high school team. Or at any point in his lifetime when he felt a little lost or homesick and simply wanted his mom.

Coach Doug McDermott subbing out his son, Doug. It was the final chapter of Doug's esteemed collegiate career.

Coach Greg McDermott subbing out his son, Doug. It was the final chapter of Doug’s esteemed collegiate career.

Watching you fully realize that this was the last time you’d see your husband and son embrace on the court as coach and player, well, it choked me up. I was fighting back the tears along with you.

I know that being #3’s mom on that particular night is just one hat you wear.

You have two other children who you’ve nurtured and supported. I assume that Doug’s transformation into the confident young man we witnessed time and time again on the court was a gradual and powerful one for you to go through. I am guessing your younger son is a people pleaser who is very proud of his big brother and considers him a hero of sorts, but also refuses to take any crap from him. I’m willing to bet your youngest sat back, took notes, and can’t wait to show the world what she’s made of.

I am confident with these assumptions because that’s how I view my own three kids.

I know there were lots of days and nights when you were raising them on your own while your husband pursued a profession at which he clearly excels. He is blessed to have you in his corner and has thanked you in the media enough times for me to believe that he realizes a good thing when he’s got it.

You must be extremely proud of Doug and Greg for what they’ve meant to Creighton University, as you should be, but you should also take pride in the way you’ve helped support your family.

Thank you for being an inspiration to many moms like me who you’ve never met.

Sincerely, Heidi Woodard

 

Editor’s correction: When you own and operate your own blog, you can give yourself fancy titles like “Editor,” right? I’ve had two people kindly inform me after I published this post that Doug McDermott is Greg and Theresa’s middle child (I mistakenly implied he is their oldest son). Nick McDermott, the couple’s oldest son, still looks “up” to his younger brother. He graduated from UNI and excelled at golf. Thanks to everyone who has read this piece and continues to share it.