The first few weeks backs at school after Winter Break are an exciting and often overwhelming period of transition and change for both students and teachers alike. Trying to remember a new schedule, waking up early, and waiting in the lunch line for what seems like hours are daily tasks that are sometimes hard to pick up after two weeks of vacation. Now, imagine doing so at an entirely new school all the way across the country, leaving behind the warm California winter for a not-so-desirable Cleveland one. This situation is the reality for Hawken’s new Admission Officer and Boys’ Varsity Lacrosse Coach, Bryce Woodson. Yet, Mr. Woodson only has positive things to say about his short time here at Hawken so far. He explains, “I’ve enjoyed just being around the kids…it’s nice working whether with the lacrosse guys on the weekends or catching a basketball game or even going to school assembly.”
Mr. Woodson has had some pretty amazing teaching and coaching jobs since his impressive four year lacrosse career at Ohio State University as a midfielder. What eventually led Mr. Woodson to Hawken was his past experience with independent schools and his fierce passion for lacrosse. Since being here, he has been pleasantly surprised by the unique dynamic of our community, reflecting, “I love the freedom that the students have. I’m used to that in independent schools – it’s definitely a step forward here and I think that it’s something that better prepares you guys for the real world.” Not only does he enjoy being at Hawken, but he also believes that he can bring new perspectives and aspects to the community. While he has mainly been learning the ropes from our admissions team and helping out where he can, Mr. Woodson thinks that it will help to have a male perspective at both the upper and lower schools in future years.
As far as his athletic responsibilities, he will be in charge of overseeing the development and progression of the Boys’ Lacrosse program. Mr. Doyle, Director of Athletics, believes that Mr. Woodson will be able to create a competitive team because of his past experience as well as his personality and character, because “As awesome as his lacrosse background is, he really talks a lot about leadership and team unity and integrity. He’s really invested himself, so I can tell he’s a strong believer in hard work and commitment. All of those things add up to success in my opinion.” Furthermore, Mr. Doyle believes that Mr. Woodson will most definitely fill the large shoes of the great lacrosse coaches in the past. He is not only dedicated to developing the team physically but also to teaching the players how to be better leaders both on and off the field.
Although the lacrosse season doesn’t officially start for another month, Mr. Woodson has been able to spend some time with the players at open gyms. Talking about these preliminary practices, the new coach has revealed, “We’ve kept it pretty basic and loose during our open gyms; we’ve been working on agility and our stick work.” Additionally, Mr. Woodson believes that the practice that players get while on their 2nd annual trip to Tampa Bay will be crucial to their success in the season. Mr. Doyle explains that this trip is an excellent way for the team to get away from the cold and snowy weather for a few days because “they train every day and they will have some scrimmages from other schools from other parts of the country so they get to see the looks at different competition than they’ll see here. It’s a really great way for them to get ready for their competitive season.” While this trip is a huge help in fine-tuning the skills of the players, both Mr. Woodson and Mr. Doyle think it will also allow the players to create strong bonds with other players as well as the new coaches. Creating this strong team unity will be vital to their success as the season progresses.
Overall, Mr. Woodson is beyond excited to not only become a part of the Boys’ Lacrosse team but also to become a part of our entire Hawken community. He already feels so welcome and at ease at our school. As he gushes, “There is a lot of support with people I haven’t even met that have reached out to me.” Most importantly, he wants to remind everyone that although he may not always have a smile on his face or be the most outgoing person, he really does want to meet and get to know everybody on campus, saying, “I always have an open office, so if you feel like you want to say hi or get to know me, swing by anytime!” So, the next time you see Mr. Woodson at a basketball game, at lunch, or at school meeting, make sure to introduce yourself and welcome this new Hawk to the nest!