Nearing the final chapter of Bellevue West’s ‘Dotzler Dynasty’

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Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 11:58 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - After over two decades of the Dotzler name echoing through the gyms of Bellevue West High School, at the end of this year there will only be one Dotzler left wearing their name on the back of a Thunderbirds jersey.

With Josiah Dotzler in his final year of high school and Zhyael, the baby of the family, in her sophomore season, this marks the last year multiple Dotzlers will be suiting up for the Thunderbirds.

“When you hear Dotzler you definitely do think of Bellevue West and I would take that as a great honor,” said Josiah.

“How many have I coached? Boy I don’t know,” said Bellevue West boys basketball head coach Doug Woodard. “Somewhere between three and six, I think. A lot.”

“I’ve coached a couple of them. I helped with Taylea when Taylea was here. I got to coach Casia for a year and now we’re onto Zhyael,” said Bellevue West girls head coach Dane Bacon. “I actually got to coach with her older sister Myhiah that won a couple of state championships.”

All 14 Dotzler siblings played basketball, 12 of whom sported purple and gold. Out of Bellevue West’s eight total high school basketball state titles, a Dotzler has had a hand in six of them, three girls state championships and three boys state championships.

“It’s huge having a Dotzler on the team that’s playing well,” said Bacon.

“Their strength is their character and the type of people they are and the way they’ve been raised and their concern for the group which in this case of course is the team,” said Woodard.

Being the youngest two siblings, Josiah and Zhyael have formed a special bond on and off the court.

“We’re pretty close for siblings. And it’s cool. He gives me a lot of tips and stuff for basketball which is nice and I always look forward to watching his games,” said Zhyael.

As can be expected in any family of athletes, there’s also plenty of sibling rivalry.

“Uh I go easy on him sometimes,” said Zhyael. “You know, gotta help him out.”

“Over Christmas, we decided to get a whole bunch of boys together. You know play some pick-up. And we were one man short. We had nine at the gym and of course, my sister was there at the gym shooting so she came along,” said Josiah. “She was killing the boys. She was hitting them shots. She was doing great.”

When they’re not playing pick-up against each other, the Dotzler family has been packing the stands of local high school basketball games for the last 25 years in support of each other.

“We’re a really close family, so whenever anyone has a game, everyone’s going to it,” said Josiah.

“If the Dotzlers aren’t there, it’s really thin. There’s a standing joke, the Dotzlers are about half the crowd,” said Woodard.

It’s not quite the end of an era. Zhyael still has two more seasons at Bellevue West. There’s also always the possibility of the next generation of Dotzlers picking up right where this one left off.

“They’re responsible for a lot of great things at Bellevue West and we know that will continue because we have a few games left and she’s got another year left,” said Bacon. “We love the Dotzlers. We think they’re fantastic and it would be okay if they had a few more.”