Isn’t it giving up something you enjoy because your enjoyment is interfering with something more important?
Doug Woodworth decided to step away from coaching boys’ basketball at Ipswich High School.
No, this wasn’t some sort of leave-of-absence. The 14-year coach knew that his decision might end forever his chances of standing courtside at the Ipswich Tiger Den or in other Cape Ann League locations.
So why make such a decision?
Simply explained, it was a family decision. But what makes this “family” decision different is that the other members of Doug’s family (wife Maureen, daughter Jena, son Justin) weren’t pushing him to give up coaching. Doug alone felt that he couldn’t wait any longer.
“I decided, after thinking about it for some time, that if I wasn’t coaching basketball I could do a better job of supporting Justin (junior at Salve Regina in Newport, Rhode Island) and Jena (sophomore at Ipswich High School) at their games,” explained Doug.
As it turned out, Justin’s games last season, played all over New England, were logistically the easiest for Doug and his wife to attend. Why? In the Cape Ann League, the girls play a school at one location while the boys play the same school at the other location at the same time. “I hardly ever saw Jena play at all,” he recalled.
That changes in 2008-09. “I have teased her coaches by telling them that I’ll be sitting behind the bench yelling for them to put my kid in,” he said with a smile.
The time commitments deleted by getting away from coaching basketball are significant. “It can be a twelve month job,” he explained. “You have to see kids play and support them and check out their development. Some kids play AAU during the year and there are also leagues that run in the summer.”
No doubt giving up basketball will put in place a lot of winter downtime. “I’ve never had a need to find things to do in the winter for the last fourteen years,” he added. “Maybe now I’ll get to some of the showcase games in the area.”
There are no maybe’s in Doug’s mind regarding who his successor should be. “My assistant coach (Alan LaRoche) would do a great job. I told him early on that I was planning to resign so I got him more involved in running this year’s team. No question, he would be a good choice.”
Returning to coaching basketball after Justin and Jena are no longer playing could be the tricky part. “I make no assumptions that there will be a basketball position for me at Ipswich when I’m ready to return in a year or so,” said Doug.
Would he coach elsewhere if the Ipswich job was filled? “I thought I’d never say I would because I’m a Tiger from the beginning but it is possible,” added Doug. “If something opens I’d take a look at it.”
( Submitted to The Town Common on May 6, 2008 )