With Fatherâ€™s Day just around the corner, we asked locals to recommend a community member whoâ€™s an exemplary dad, and they suggested Jason Woodward â€” a father of three who is very involved in the Urbana community.
When we asked Woodward what his advice to new dads is, he responded: â€śBe there as much as you can.â€ť Time flies by when you are a parent, he said, so â€śdonâ€™t take anything for granted.â€ť
Woodward said his own father embodied this advice and always took time to play catch with his son whenever he was asked. â€śJust donâ€™t let those moments slip away,â€ť Woodward said.
Originally from Gaithersburg, Woodward moved to Urbana in 2001 because he â€śfell in love with the community and atmosphereâ€ť of the Villages of Urbana. â€śWe put down our roots,â€ť he said.
Woodward has 12-year-old twins, Tyler and Kylie, as well as a 7-month old daughter, Mackinley. He met his wife, Shannon, in high school, and the couple has been married for 16 years.
His greatest joy in being a dad is seeing his kids â€śgrow and mature and do well.â€ť He said he takes pride in their success. Tyler plays football and baseball, as well as participates on the swim team and goes snowboarding. His daughter Kylie is a cheerleader, plays soccer, and is on the swim team.
â€śWhen Tyler took up snowboarding, Jason was by his side,â€ť said his wife, Shannon. â€śHe has spent many days sitting in the lodge saving a spot for Tyler when he and his friends come in and, of course, has a packed lunch ready for them.â€ť
Woodward and Kylie also go to all of the cheerleading and pom competitions at her school. â€śIâ€™m almost positive that is why she loves cheerleading as much as she does,â€ť said Shannon.
Two of Woodwardâ€™s favorite memories with his kids are playing catch with his son at Camden Yards, home field of the Baltimore Orioles, and watching his daughter make the scoring goal at a soccer game.
Family vacations are very important to Woodward. â€śWeâ€™re all very busy,â€ť he explained. Whether itâ€™s a weekend at his parentsâ€™ house or a longer trip out of town, itâ€™s good to get away from the rat race, he said. For Woodward, the coupleâ€™s 10th wedding anniversary was a very special occasion, because his family and his parents had the opportunity to go to Disneyland together.
Woodward appreciates everyday events with his family, such as taking a trip to Wegmans, watching TV together at night and playing football and basketball with his son. He also enjoys the eight weeks of paternity leave he had when his new daughter was born. â€śEnjoy the time you have,â€ť he said.
Woodward works as the athletic director at Gaithersburg High School, overseeing 42 sports teams. He also has served as president of Urbana youth baseball program. As president, he focused on giving the kids a great experience and encouraged them to teach their own kids to play baseball when they grow up. Currently a coach in the Urbana youth baseball and football programs, he also volunteers for the Urbana swim team. He said he tries to give back whenever he can.
â€śAs Tyler gets older, he is right by his dadâ€™s side getting fields ready for games, lining fields or making the run to Samâ€™s club to stock the snack bar,â€ť said Shannon.
Woodward explained that his involvement in community organizations would not be possible without Shannonâ€™s support. â€śI have a great wife,â€ť Woodward said.
After becoming a father, Woodward said his priorities have changed in order to make time for the kids. He and his wife no longer have the time they spent alone together. He and Shannon take the time to make sure that they are involved in their childrenâ€™s activities and that their needs are taken care of, he said.
Parenting can be challenging, he said, such as when your children are upset, but you donâ€™t always know what they are upset about.
â€śEvery experience is different, and thereâ€™s no manual to it,â€ť he said. Woodward explained that he tries to be honest and listen to what they say. â€śI try to make them understand lifeâ€™s lessons,â€ť he said. Itâ€™s also important to give them hugs, he said.
Woodward is committed to spending quality time with his kids. When he comes home, Woodward doesnâ€™t get on the phone or on the computer until the kids have gone to bed, he said. â€śItâ€™s family time.â€ť