Coach Woodard says goodbye

Chloe McAleer, Reporter

After 25 years at Bellevue West and six state basketball titles, head boys varsity basketball coach and dean, Doug Woodard, will be retiring. Assistant coach Steve Klein will be taking over as head coach.

“We’re gonna miss him from a basketball standpoint because he knows so much about the game, and, and his relationship with all our guys,” Klein said. “I mean, that’s gonna be a big piece that we’re gonna have to find a way to replace.”

According to assistant coach Matthew Lauritsen, the players will have to adapt to the new coaching styles, but overall there will be no major changes to the team’s dynamic. 

“In sports, the coaching is super important, but it ultimately does come down to the players, and so we have really good players and if we continue to have good players, we’re going to be fine,” Lauristen said.

According to Woodard, he’s coached basketball at both Bellevue West and through a summer program called the Crusaders where he’s helped many players move onward to college. Woodard said he’s been fortunate enough to coach hundreds of players through the summer program and several dozen at Bellevue West alone.

One of the players he’s coached, senior Josiah Dotzler, said he originally heard about Woodard’s retirement three days before the state championship.

“It was definitely a shock,” Dotzler said. “When the final buzzer sounded, I knew that it was going to be his last game as a head coach, and I just gave him a big hug, and we didn’t even say anything, but it was a really emotional moment.”

For his last basketball season, Woodard said he wanted to challenge his players to play with joy which he hoped rubbed off on those watching.

“We wanted them to play with a joy that would be, we thought, infectious,” Woodard said. “That people would enjoy watching them because there’s so much that’s dark in the world.”

After having children and grandchildren graduate through Bellevue West, Woodard said the school and the people have been like a second family that he will never forget.

“It’s a special place, and it’s special because of the people that are here,” Woodard said.