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Gators bond over NBA coaching fathers

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Posted: Thursday, October 29, 2009 12:45 am

As the NBA season begins, the Gators will have two fewer fans in attendance at the O'Connell Center.

During the offseason, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson could often be spotted together cheering on their daughters, junior opposite hitter Callie Rivers and freshman outside hitter Mariah Woodson.

But now that basketball season has begun, they can't attend their daughters' matches anymore.

"It's not as much as both of them probably would like, but they come as much as they can," Rivers said.

However, it has not stopped them from keeping track of No. 10 Florida's (16-3, 10-2 Southeastern Conference) matches.

"My dad just told me that he had the Hawks watch our game this past Friday against Arkansas in the locker room before they went out to play," Woodson said.

Doc and Mike have been friends for a long time, but thanks to their daughters, their friendship has gotten even stronger recently.

"They aren't enemies. People might think they hate each other, but that's not the case," Woodson said. "They are actually very good friends, and the fact that Callie and I play together helps their relationship."

In return, the tie between their fathers has also helped Rivers and Woodson become close off the court, and it even helped Woodson in her decision to become a Gator.

On her recruiting trip to UF, she gravitated toward Rivers and the relationship she had with her allowed Woodson to feel comfortable in Gainesville.

"Basically when she came here I just told her this was a great place to be and if I could go back in time I wouldn't change my decision, I am happy that I came here," Rivers said.

Although their fathers are both NBA head coaches and they are both part of the same volleyball team, the similarities between them stop there.

Growing up, Rivers admitted she was a "tomboy" as she grew up with four brothers and played basketball, soccer and volleyball. But Woodson, on the other hand, enjoyed cheerleading and volleyball while despising basketball.

"I loved cheering to be honest, even though I am like six-feet tall," Woodson said. "Basketball, I looked at as being gross. I don't know why. I just thought it wasn't feminine enough."

In a one-on-one basketball game they agreed Callie would win without a doubt.

But the answer wasn't so clear when they were asked which father would win when the Celtics and the Hawks go up against each other on Nov. 13.

On that same day the Gators will be busy playing one of their most important matches of the season against LSU that same night, so the bragging will have to wait - at least until after the match.

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