Woodard closes book on memorable time at Plano East
By Matt Welch | Star Local Media
As the Plano East boys soccer team wrapped up its final home game of the 2023 season on March 7, head coach Rick Woodard stayed in the Kimbrough Stadium locker room by himself for a few minutes afterwards.
It was a moment of reflection for the Panthers' longtime leader, having coached every home game for East inside that venue and countless others elsewhere over the course of nearly three decades at the helm.
"You're just thinking back a little bit on both the good times and not-so-good times," Woodard said. "When I came out and saw our trainer and assistant coach (Jake) Downs, they gave me a smile and I said that I just wanted to take a minute. Twenty-seven years is a long time."
It wasn't long after, leading up to the final game of the year, when Woodard said he told his players that the 2023 season would be his last — announcing his retirement after 35 years of coaching, including 27 at East.
"It was tough. For me, it's always been about the boys," Woodard said. "The wins and losses will come and that's just the way my high school coach would talk to us about it — the wins and losses will come, but it's about getting the boys ready to be successful. I'm really close with this group, lots of them. I think the last day of school when I see the boys for that last get-together, it'll hit me then."