The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Woody track legacy runs in the family

When his kids are wearing the Black and Gold, Iowa Director of Track and Field Joey Woody sees them the same as every other Hawkeye.
Isabella Tisdale
Iowa Isabelle Woody and Illinois State Kiley sanders compete in the women’s 60 meter hurdles during the first day of the Larry Wieczorek invitational at the Hawkeye Indoor Track Facility on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024. The Hawkeyes hosted a variety of schools including Illinois state and Wisconsin. Events at the invite included long jump, pole vault and various running events.

Iowa Director of Track and Field Joey Woody and his wife, Heather, founded the Iowa Speed Track & Field Club in 2011 in hopes of introducing their kids to the sport. Over a decade later, Drake and Isabelle Woody continue to compete under their father as Hawkeyes.

Drake Woody, a fourth-year, competes in hurdles while Isabelle Woody, a second-year multi-event athlete, transferred to Iowa this year after a season at UC Santa Barbara.

“I’ve been doing track since I was really little with my parents,” Isabelle Woody said. “It was just so natural in my family.”

Isabelle Woody was the 10-and-under high jump national champion at nine years old in her first year competing in the event. Joey Woody believes it was these moments that foreshadowed her future in collegiate athletics.

“We had glimpses,” he said of her early success.

It was the same story for Drake Woody. After trying out various other sports and following his parents’ lead, he began to focus on track and field.

When he saw the javelin throw, it was love at first sight.

“He wasn’t nearly as involved initially, but at a youth track meet one day, Drake saw someone throwing something called a turbo javelin out in a field,” Joey Woody said. “He was like, ‘That’s cool. I want to do that.’”

His father said Drake Woody was a three-time All-American in the javelin throw through the AAU circuit, placing in the top eight at the national meet.

Drake and Isabelle remember the lessons their father taught them during their young athletic careers.

“He told me that I may not be the biggest and I may not be the fastest, but if I work hard enough, I can catch up or even pass those people,” Drake Woody said.

Isabelle remembers her parents’ confidence in her never wavering despite season-ending injuries among other setbacks.

Both Isabelle and Drake Woody used their experience in youth track and field as a foundation to carry them through their high school careers and college recruiting processes.

During Isabelle Woody’s first year in college, she competed at UC Santa Barbara.

“Going there made me realize how much I wanted to be coached by my dad,” Isabelle Woody said.

After entering the transfer portal at the end of her first season, she found a home back with her family at the University of Iowa.

“I’ve never had to question the belief my dad has in me,” she said. “I just know he sees so much potential in me.”

Straight out of high school, Drake Woody was recruited by multiple college programs, and one was led by his father.

Drake Woody emailed the Iowa coaching staff inquiring about the program. He said the process was no different for him than it would be for any other future Hawkeye.

The coaching staff responded, interested in his potential to compete in the 400-meter hurdles and javelin throw.

“I called him when I was in Texas on a recruiting trip and said, ‘Hey, this is Coach Woody. Is Drake Woody there?’” Joey Woody recalled. “We gave him the normal sales pitch.”

This recruiting call set Isabelle and Drake Woody’s standard for adjusting to a new family dynamic.

“He’s been coaching me for so long,” Drake Woody said. “It started out as just for fun, but now our relationship is very professional. He treats me like one of his other athletes.”

Similarly, when Isabelle Woody calls or texts her father about track and field, she refers to him as “Coach Woody.”

“If we’re at track, he’s ‘coach’ to me,” she said. “That helps a lot because I need to hear from him in a coach perspective to get better.”

The Woody family navigates this challenge by keeping track and field and life separate at home. Joey Woody says he directs conversation toward other aspects of their life, though their sport always seems to come up.

After all, track and field is the center of the Woody legacy.

“I just want the best for them,” Joey Woody said. “I want them to have great experiences and great performances, but it’s the same thing with every other athlete.”

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About the Contributors
Mia Boulton
Mia Boulton, Sports Reporter
Mia Boulton is a freshman at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism & Mass Communication, as well as exploring a possible double major in Sports Media. She works at the Daily Iowan as a sports reporter. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Mia has been a photographer for her hometown newspaper, The Record.
Isabella Tisdale
Isabella Tisdale, Photojournalist
Isabella Tisdale is a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan and is a senior at West High school. In her free time, she stage manages for the theater program at West High. She plans to double major in political science and journalism.