QUINCY — Bob Woodworth had, by his own admission, strict rules for his players when he coached the Quincy boys basketball team from 1955 to 1972. Woodworth demanded accountability, preparedness and self-control from his athletes, among other things, and developed his own unique style of coaching that helped him achieve a long-lasting, unprecedented run of success.
Over the years, he cultivated that coaching style into something more, something that almost took on a life of its own in the small Columbia Basin town.
“It was Woody’s way,” said Jim Spence, who played for Woodworth from 1955-59 and served as Woodworth’s assistant coach from 1966-72. “Everybody knew that if you didn’t play his way, you didn’t get to play. His teams were so disciplined.
“I remember a story he told about one game after I graduated. A (Quincy) player called time out with 15 seconds to go. Woody told the player to hold on to the ball and not take a shot until there was five seconds left on the clock. The kid gets the ball at the free throw line with seven seconds left and passes up a wide-open shot. After the game, Woody said, ‘Why didn’t you shoot?’ The kid told him, ‘You told me to shoot when there was five seconds left.’ ”
Woodworth, who died Monday at the age of 89, was big on punctuality as well. Often, he’d tell his players that the bus taking the squad to an away contest would close its doors and depart at a certain time, even if it meant that he’d have to leave someone behind — and he’d mean it.
He also was a stickler for detail.
“He wanted things done correctly in practice, and we’d do them over and over until we did them right,” Spence said. “The expectation was that we’d do it his way the best we could, every time the same way. We were successful because of the repetitions. We knew what to do to execute correctly.”
Due to his meticulous nature, incessant preparation for each and every contest, and uncanny ability to recognize an opponent’s strength, adjust, and turn that strength into a weakness, Woodworth turned the boy’s basketball program at Quincy High School into a powerhouse.
He compiled 371 wins and 152 losses in 21 seasons, 17 at Quincy. During his tenure as the Jackrabbits’ coach, Quincy won 12 league championships, 10 district titles and advanced to 10 state tournaments, with third- and fourth-place finishes in back-to-back years. He was inducted into the Washington State Coaches Hall of Fame in 1999.
But for Woodworth, coaching basketball was about much more than just wins and losses.
“A lot of his (former players) don’t realize this, but Woody really liked the kids that played for him,” Spence said. “A lot of us turned out to be good friends with him as we got older. He was about more than just basketball. A lot of us have gone on to do good things and have successful lives, and that’s partly because of the life lessons that he taught us all. We have a lot of great memories of him. I’ll miss him.”
Woodworth remained in Quincy until his passing, raising three sons with his wife Barbara. He was an avid golfer, playing regularly until about two years ago.
In 2009, the basketball court at Quincy High School was named for Woodworth.
“He commanded an extreme amount of respect,” Ed Field, who played for Woodworth in the 1960s, told the Quincy Valley Post-Register in 2009. “He was the coach, and there was no doubt about it. My goal, growing up as a kid, was to play for Woody. I think that was the goal of every youngster in this town. He was simply a winner.”