- Associated Press - Sunday, June 8, 2014

LAWTON, Okla. (AP) - Audie Woodard’s fingerprints can be found on several defining moments in Comanche County athletics.

The Cache High School product was a junior in 1953 when The Constitution started selecting All-Area basketball teams.

Voters elected Woodard to that team, and in 1954 he was named outstanding player.

The next stop was Cameron Junior College. The 6-5 Woodard was a sophomore starter when Harvey Pate’s 1956 unit became the first Aggie squad to qualify for the National juco tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas.

A five-semester stay at Midwestern State preceded a lengthy career as a coach and administrator. Woodard, who celebrates his 78th birthday this month, retired in 1991 but continues to work as a consultant and special education manager. He also works with a teacher evaluation program and writes federal programs for about a dozen schools in Oklahoma.

Woodard’s journey began in Cache.

“When I was in grade school, Quentin Owens was our coach,” he said. “I talked him into letting me ride on a bus to the games so I could watch ‘em.

“We had good teams all the years I was in high school. Of course, that was before we had the area tournament.

“We went all the way to the finals of the regional my senior year. We were beaten by a few points by Hollis.”

Cache won District when a Woodard layup just before the buzzer produced a 46-44 victory over host Snyder.

The jump shot was just coming into vogue during that era.

“My junior and senior years are when Arnold Short was going to school at OCU,” Woodard said. “He was my idol. I worked out using the jump shot, trying to pattern it after him. He could shoot it with either hand.”

The next stop was Cameron.

“I grew up watching Cameron play in the old barn,” Woodard said. “That’s where we played. I had a couple of offers from some schools; one of them was another junior college.

A call from Cameron’s Harvey Pate opened another door for Woodard.

“I had had some knee problems, not anything major,” he said. “I had a knee cartilage operation. In those years, that was kind of a major thing. Now it’s nothing.

“Coach Pate offered me a scholarship. I was kind of a homebody anyway, so I accepted. I stayed home those two years.

The ‘56 trip to Nationals was special.

“Johnny Carver from Bowie, Texas, was on that team,” Woodard said. “Fran Siebuhr (Cameron’s first All-American) was on that team … Fred Yeahquo from Lawton High was a freshman.

“Bruce Medley was on that team. Bruce played at OU after he left Cameron. He played those years when Doyle Parrack took over and they didn’t really have a lot of players.

“Doyle actually had offered me a scholarship.”

Woodard declined. A sales pitch from MSU assistant Cotton Fitzsimmons sold him on the Wichita Falls school.

“Cotton was there when Cameron went to the National Tournament,” Woodard said.

Dallas Clynch, the MSU head coach, quit after a 2-7 start.

“We all thought Cotton would be named the coach, but he wasn’t,” Woodard said. “They named Dennis Vinzant, who was assistant football coach. He hadn’t coached basketball since Year One.

“We always kidded Cotton because he left and went to Moberly Junior College. I used to tell him: ‘see there. If you had stayed at Midwestern as head coach, you might have been really successful’.”

Fitzsimmons won two national titles at Moberly. His Greyhounds defeated Cameron in the 1966 finals and in the ‘67 semifinals. He left for Kansas State and quickly moved to the NBA.

Woodard earned his bachelor’s degree in 1959. He also completed ROTC, received his commission and was assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia.

“Being an officer in those days was tough because they didn’t have many openings,” Woodard said. “I had an opportunity to stay in, but I couldn’t wait to get out and start coaching.”

He was offered a job with Fletcher Public Schools, but a Cache colleague was superintendent of schools at Tyrone and lured Woodard to the Panhandle.

His intent was to coach basketball and teach. He wound up coaching the eight-man football team.

“In my second year there, we actually won the state championship,” Woodard said.

Woodard stayed at Tyrone for three years, then moved to Watonga as head basketball coach.

“I was there a couple years,” he said, “starving to death as a teacher/coach with a wife and three children.”

He accepted a job as a counselor in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

“I thought I had quit coaching, but they wanted me to be an assistant football coach,” Woodard said.

While at Watonga, he had attended Southwestern and completed work on a Master’s degree. He continued to pursue higher education while at Los Alamos.

“I wanted to come back to Oklahoma State and finish that, so I took the head basketball job at Hugoton, Kansas, and started back to school at Oklahoma State in the summers.”

One year later, he was at Seiling.

“A friend offered me a job, so I got out of coaching, went to work as the curriculum coordinator for a federal program,” Woodard said.

“That’s when I first got into administration.

“A federal grant ran out, and that’s when I was hired at Deer Creek as superintendent,” he said. “I stayed five years.”

Woodard completed work on his doctorate, then signed on as superintendent at Weatherford, then five years later took over as superintendent at Seminole.


Information from: The Lawton Constitution, https://www.swoknews.com

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