Doug Woodard’s last basketball game as head coach at Bellevue West came Saturday night when his T-Birds won their second title in four years. It was a dominant 64-41 win over what has turned into a rival Millard North.
After 25 years as a T-Bird Woodard told his team Saturday night it would be his last.
“Just a joy to coach at Bellevue West and this team,” Woodard said. “It’s simply time for a new chapter, the focus needs to be on them and what they have done.”
In true Woodard style he deflected the praise of his seventh state title as a head coach to his team. A team that in his words was the best defensive team he is “certain it’s overall the best defensive team I’ve had the privilege to coach.” A perfect 29-0 and outscored their opponents by a whopping 759 total points.
If Doug Woodard isn’t the best high school basketball coach the state of Nebraska has ever seen, he most certainly belongs on the Mount Rushmore. His career record 693-256.
Just ask some of the best players to ever play for him.
Josiah Dotzler – Bellevue West, 2023
Where do I even begin? Coach Woodard is family to me. From the day I entered Bellevue west as a freshman, he guided me as a player and as a man.
I have learned so much from him and he has impacted my life on so many levels. The legacy Woodard has left at Bellevue West and the state of Nebraska will never be forgotten. I am honored to have been coached by him and I love him to death. There is no coach like him and I will forever be grateful for all he has done for me.
Chucky Hepburn – Bellevue West, 2021
Coach Woodard is the best high school coach Nebraska has ever had in my eyes. He trusted me as a 14-year old to start on varsity and run the offense. Woodard helped me establish the true point guard mindset. I could not have asked for a better coach to help me prep for my basketball career.
Antoine Young – Bellevue West, 2008
The impact he has had on me as a player and a person is tremendous. He showed a 15 year old kid who had no clue of what it was going to take to be the type of player I wanted to be, what needed to be done.
The discipline, consistency, and toughness he required from me daily made me into the player I was and then man I am today.
By the time I was a junior in high school he had me ready to play Division 1 basketball. At that time he showed me how to put my head down and just work at my craft. He was able to change my mindset from a 15 year old trying to figure it out to an athlete who understood his path and what it was going to take to obtain winning at the highest level.
As a freshman he was always on me about every little thing. He constantly would coach my inconsistency and lack of focus. At the time I couldn’t understand why he was so hard on me, but I can look back and understand it now. He asked me one day what type of player I wanted to be and how I wanted to be remembered when I left Bellevue west.
As a young kid who idolized players before me such Zach Fortune and Josh Dotzler, I told coach I wanted to be on the wall of fame like those guys. I told him I wanted to be one of the best players to ever come out of this state. He then said to me well what are you prepared to do for these things to happen. This question provided the motivation to focus and work hard enough to become the player I wanted to be.
Coach, I want to say thank you for making me the player and the person I am today. I want to say thank you for the countless six a.m. workouts. I want to say thank you for guiding me and showing me tough love.
Thank you coach!
Mike Jenkins – Bellevue West, 2005
It was the Spring of 2001. Sitting in study hall at Bryan middle school, I had no idea what high school I was going to go to. My brother was a standout hooper at Bryan High under coach Cannon, but my mom wanted a change of scenery for me.
My middle school counselor got a hold of coach Woodard and coincidentally Bellevue West had Jr. T-Bird tryouts that night. From that night on, my life changed.
The average fan sees the success he has had on the court, but his impact on every current and former Bellevue West athlete off the court is where he should be recognized. As a freshman in high school I remember coach calling me to his office and not mentioning basketball throughout the whole conversation.
He would ask how my grades were and how I was behaving at home. I swear he and my mom had a pact that if I got in trouble at home, I had to run at practice. Coach was all about respect. You were going to respect your family, your teammates and especially all staff at Bellevue West. You had better not leave any trash in the gym or locker room for the janitors to pick up or all hell would break loose.
He instilled in all of us that no man is above anyone else and you treat everyone with respect no matter their job title or situation. His no nonsense approach to the game and life, has had a huge impact on me to this day. Starting out as a hard headed inner city kid to the man I am today, I can honestly say without a coach I don’t know where I would be.
Josh Dotzler – Bellevue West, 2005
For those of us who played for Coach Woodard, he was more than a coach. We got to see someone live out their purpose every day. Someone who showed up every day excited to be in the gym and excited to do what he loved. We got to see someone who had an extreme level of passion for the game of basketball.
He had a passion to find ways to make us better. Always finding the latest skill development drills, conditioning workouts, and technology to give us an edge. No matter the score, he brought the same level of passion and intensity to the game. It was something we didn’t always love or appreciate but it made us better. We learned phrases like piss-poor, to describe how we were playing. He was a master at creating language to describe what he saw and a way to bring joy to the overall experience.
Coach Woodard represented more than Basketball. As a young man, we got to watch someone who lived with purpose every day, exuded passion in everything he did, and constantly pushed us and those he coached to reach their full God-given potential. As players and individuals who were able to experience Coach Woodard’s culture, we are forever better.
Todd Fitzgerald – Omaha Roncalli, 1993
My relationship with Coach Woodard spans over 35 years back to his days at Bellevue Christian Academy and my freshman year at Holy Name in 1989.
I was always impressed how hard, tough and fast his Bellevue Christian teams played. I think what sometimes gets lost is the foundation of Coach Woodard’s success was laid by those early Bellevue Christian teams.
In 1992 he took over at Roncalli after Coach Mike Dempsey left for Gross. It was my senior year and I remember Coach telling me, “Trust me Fitz, we are going to run and have fun.” Never a truer statement. Coach was able to build on a solid foundation and created a new culture of intensity, unselfishness, aggressiveness and unit which are still hallmarks of his teams to this day.
Coach Woodard’s ability to adapt to the ever-changing atmosphere of high school basketball and do it with unceasing energy, enthusiasm and wit is what makes him one of the greatest coaches in the history of Nebraska basketball.