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For some, sports can be about showing off. For Casey Woodring it was all about showing up.
And Woodring showed up like nobody else with Providence College men’s hoops.
“He’s the only player at Providence College to actually be on the floor four consecutive NCAA Tournaments, which is a tribute to him.” said Friars coach Ed Cooley. “He’s a great kid. He’s a vital, vital part of our program.”
He wasn’t big on stats. He was big, in sticking to it.
“He’s a great contributor to our program; hasn’t played as much as he would have liked to,” Cooley said. “But at the same time, he’s been a great teammate.”
He showed up when he could have just showed off as a youth player, opting uniquely for Bridgeport-based AAU rather than lesser leagues; same for high school, where he sought out Choate, then Cushing where he helped to win the AA New England title his PG senior year.
“It’s kind of always been a theme,” said Woodring. “I’ve tried to always challenge myself. And go up against the best.”
He did this about every day, to no applause, but lasting appreciation in Rhode Island.
“Hundred percent,” Cooley said of the four-year chore of practice. “He had to go against (Bryce) Cotton, Kris Dunn; and now against Kyron (Cartwright). He’s been baptized by fire, you know.”
“For my college experience, I could have gone to a lot of places and played,” Woodring said. “But, I pride myself that I took on this challenge. And it may not have worked out as far as getting all the minutes that I probably would have wanted. But, I can look back and say that I gave it my best shot to try to compete with the best.”
“You know, just because he’s a walk-on, that does not take away anything that he has been able to do for our program,” Cooley added.
His shooting is what first made Cooley have a second look.
“His ability to shoot the ball was really impressive to me, that’s something that stood out to us,” said Cooley, with Woodring scoring 1,100 points in four seasons at Choate. “And then, his work ethic. He gave us everything he could.”
Academically he showed up, and sped up, graduating early by taking summer courses, allowing him to finish his four-year degree last spring.
This past year he worked on his MBA, which he is expecting to complete — when else — over the summer, as he trains at Morgan Stanley as part of the course.
“Because I was trying to double-up on credits, I took as many as a regular student, then took like three in the summer,” Woodring said. “So I basically didn’t really take summers off from school. But looking back on it, it was definitely worth it.”
So were the frustrations.
“I was used to playing a lot and playing well all the way up to (Providence),” said Woodring. “And to take that secondary role, it was tough some games. But, we had good years, so I can’t really complain.”
Enchantment for a lifetime with the four year streak of showing for the national show?
“I think it’s pretty cool,” said Woodring. “It’s something to have. And I’ve had so many great teammates over the years too. And the coaches did a great job of getting us to the tournament.
“But I think it’s something I’ll always have to look back on.”
A second-half setback saw the Friars slip and fall after holding a good lead against USC at the NCAA Tournament last month.
The Friars closed out the season at 20-13.
“Getting on the floor at MSG in the Big East Tournament is something that I’ll never forget,” Woodring said. “Getting on the court at NCAAs playing North Carolina was cool too. I’ve had so many great experiences, even though I haven’t played that much.”
And showing up, you couldn’t miss him. A refreshingly retro Pete Maravich-esque aura hovered over his physical presence when he was unleashed to bound across the court.
“Oh, his hair,” said Cooley. “He’s a throw-back, he’s a throw-back.”
They noticed back in the stands.
“The crowd was awesome,” Woodring added. “I didn’t play that much. But to have everybody come out, and support, meant a lot to me.”
“He’s probably the fan favorite,” Cooley said. “But the kid’s just a wonderful person. I can’t tell you how blessed we are to have him as part of our family.
“We’re really, really proud of Casey.”