By Tim Chambers
It was only a year ago that a story titled, “role model to all” ran in the Tomahawk.
Those were the most fitting words one could find to describe Gary Woodard who died shortly after coaching the 11-12 Little League All-Star team in 2017.
His Marlin’s team had just run the table by going undefeated in league and tournament play. It was a memorable season for many that will never be forgotten.
The season became even more memorable last Saturday when 23 teams marched into Cunningham Park for the 2018 Little League’s opening day celebration.
Tears were flowing everywhere at “Gary Woodard Field” as mayor Kevin Parsons addressed the large crowd. A sign hung on the scoreboard as Parsons read the proclamation that the field from that day on would bear Woodard’s name, whose family was on hand to watch as a standing ovation followed Parson’s announcement.
There wasn’t a dry eye anywhere.
“I don’t know what to say,” said his widow Lisa Woodard with their children Adrian and Anthony Hall and Gary junior by her side. “Gary would not have wanted all this attention, but it does mean so much to our family and me. I will forever be grateful to our Little League, Mayor Parsons and everyone involved. Gary was a blessed man, and I know he’s
looking down and smiling at everyone.”
A dugout was also named in honor of Woodard who spent ten years as a coach including five at the major league level.
But the dedication didn’t stop there.
The tears kept flowing as league president Brian Day honored the late Steve Marshall’s family with a plaque naming the other dugout in his honor.
Marshall was a fixture at all the youth games and was often in the dugout or on the sidelines as a coach. Many young players were able to see their names in the paper because of Marshall. He always took the time to record the stats
and made sure that every player got recognized that contributed.
“It’s really special because we didn’t expect it,” said Marshall’s widow Danae. “This was his world when it came to youth sports. He loved helping his sons and all the kids. I know that he would be humbled if he were here to see what took place today.”
Somehow I feel like they were. Long live the names of Gary Woodard and Steven Marshall.