Archives For Creighton University

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

Two words: Sports talk. Two more words: Mom blogger. What could possibly go wrong?

I was extended an invitation by Damon Benning, who is one half of the broadcasting powerhouse known as Sharp and Benning in the Morning, to appear on their sports talk show this Wednesday. They’ve been educating and entertaining listeners for over two years on 1620 the ZONE, Omaha’s #1 local sports station.

The topic is youth sports and how adults ruin everything for the kids.

I may have taken the liberty of adding the last eight words based on my opinionated view on this matter.

I will be part of a panel of experts – well, besides me, of course – and I have no idea what to expect. Strangely, that is precisely how I prefer to work. I don’t want to know what you’re going to throw at me. I like to respond by winging it (much to the chagrin of my former coaches and bosses).

I know that Damon was a former standout student athlete like myself. He simply played in a larger arena. He was a running back for the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers from 1992 to 1996. He was the 1996 Orange Bowl MVP.

He knows what it’s like to compete at a high level and then raise kids who are playing competitive sports as well.

If he doesn’t introduce me as a Creighton University Hall of Famer to tout my credentials, you better believe I will. I know I will be speaking to a (predominantly) large group of male listeners, and I can only imagine what they’ll all be thinking when they hear a local mom blogger is joining in on the discussion.

Guys, listen, I had an athletic career before I was a mom…and it was a damn good one. So, yes, I do get my panties in a twist when a parent tries to convince everyone that their kid is destined to go pro, or decides it’s a good idea to publicly humiliate their child because they disagree with a coach or an official, or generally live vicariously through their offspring on the court or field. Your kid’s either got it or they don’t…the truth hurts sometimes.

The statistics speak for themselves: From High School to Pro – How Many Will Go?

I believe Dr. Louis M. Profeta put it best in his March 25 post, Your kid and my kid are not playing in the pros.

With all of these facts staring us normally level-headed adults straight in the face, why do we continue to justify spending thousands upon thousands of dollars in private lessons, league fees, hotel accommodations, athletic gear, and (gasp) medical bills to keep our son or daughter in the game?

Anyone who knows me knows I am one of the biggest advocates of youth sports. Team sports, in particular, teach kids the valuable lesson that things don’t always go your way. They drive home the concept of a collaborative group being greater than any one all-star.

The biggest dilemma I’ve faced as I’ve shifted from player to parent is I have more perspective now. Let me repeat that: I consider my parental perspective a dilemma. The reason I feel that way is because I’ve witnessed a handful of wonderful coaches and parents putting their time and energy into teaching kids how to play the game. I’ve also watched a lot of selfish adults putting their own interests ahead of all else. The former group is shrinking by the second.

Kids must learn how to win graciously and lose humbly. Adults must learn how to level set expectations.

Because, at the end of their playing days, every athlete should feel pride in what they’ve accomplished, not shame for what never was.

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.