Albert Lea’s Woodside siblings rule the basketball court

Published 2:26 am Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Column: Notes from Nashville, by Andrew Dyrdal

Bryn Woodside hadn’t spent but a couple hours visiting her brother, Ben, in Italy when he leaned over to whisper a secret.

“Bryn, guess what?” he asked. “You’re the all-time leading scorer in Albert Lea girls’ basketball history but you’re not supposed to find out until the banquet.”

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Bryn’s mom, Robbi, planned on unveiling the record at the post-season banquet, but when she left the room, Ben, a 2004 graduate of Albert Lea High School who plays basketball professionally in Europe, couldn’t wait to break the news.

“It was our first day together, and he couldn’t hold it any longer than that,” said Bryn, laughing. “He wanted to be the one to tell me.”

That’s because the milestone meant Bryn joined Ben as the all-time leading scorers in girls’ and boys’ basketball, respectively. Bryn finished her career with 1,340 points while her brother scored a total of 1,724.

Ben said he felt Bryn deserved to be recognized right away — some missing stats needed to be found before the record became official — and took his first opportunity to tell her.

“I’m glad I did it,” he said. “The look on her face was priceless.”

Bryn said she was surprised to hear she had passed Hali Hendrickson, who graduated in 2008, on the scoring list and thought she had finished second.

“I think it’s pretty unique,” Bryn said of sharing the accomplishment with Ben. “That probably doesn’t happen a lot.”

Bryn and Ben are 10 years apart in age, and she said she has only a few memories of her brother’s career at ALHS. Bryn remembers plenty from his ensuing five-year career at North Dakota State in Fargo, N.D., though, and anticipated practicing with him each summer when Ben came home from college.

“He would only come home for like a week,” Bryn said. “But I knew we would have five straight days of working out in the gym together. It helped being around basketball when I was younger.”

Bryn’s dad, Paul, said his daughter scored many of her career points in the same way as his son and said there was little difference in their style of play.

“They both were average 3-point shooters,” said Paul. “But they were both point guards and leaders on their team. They looked for transition baskets and drove very well, which created a lot of free throw opportunities.”

Robbi said Bryn watched so many of Ben’s games as she developed that she “mimicked” him from the start of her career.

“I will give Bryn kudos, though, because I think she was a better defensive player than Ben was in high school,” Robbi said.

Bryn averaged 19.7 points this season, along with 4.4 assists and 3.6 steals. She signed a letter of intent this winter to play basketball at Jamestown College in Jamestown, N.D., less than 100 miles from where her brother began his college career.

Despite spending the past five years playing basketball in Europe, Ben said he was able to follow Bryn’s career through online stats, videos and frequent conversations with his sister.

“I really enjoyed watching her games online,” Ben said. “My wife would find me screaming at the computer even though I already knew the outcome of the game. I would ask Bryn how every game went and wanted specific details.

“She was probably sick of me asking her so many questions.”

Bryn said she’s excited to begin her next chapter of basketball at Jamestown College and must improve her 3-point shot and physical strength to help her score against stronger guards at the college level.

Her departure ends a stretch where either she or Ben suited up for the Tigers during nine of 14 seasons dating back to 2001.

Paul and Robbi said their children were blessed to be relatively healthy throughout their entire careers and to have their grandparents, Jack and Orlene, support them throughout.

“We’ll always be Tigers fans,” Robbi said.

Andrew Dyrdal’s column appears in the Tribune each Tuesday.