Remembering the legendary Coach Holland
Published 5:05 pm Monday, March 6, 2023
The word “legend” in Webster’s dictionary is a noun that means an extremely famous or notorious person especially in a particular field. I had the good fortune to have spent 10 years with a true legend, Terry Holland, while he was the AD at East Carolina University. Coach Holland passed away last week at the age of 80. Much has been said about him as a coach, but I want to tell you about him as a man.
Coach Holland had a great impact on my life as a man and I am sure he impacted so many others. He left a valuable imprint on me about the way a man should live his life. He was a rather simple man and always came to work every day wearing a shirt and tie. He wanted all the people around him to have the things that would help them succeed. He was humble in the way that he conducted himself in public. Always the first to shake a hand and give a smile and that will never be forgotten by others. He was one of the best things that ever happened to East Carolina University.
He was a tall man who had played basketball at Davidson College and he carried himself professionally where ever he went. He knew the direction he was going and at home football games he could be seen stopping at cars greeting alumni and their friends. He would not sit at a basketball game, but rather stand in the doorway with his wife and sweetheart from high school, Ann. He never interfered with a coach.
He was responsible for our academic average being so high among our teams at ECU. He walked light but carried a big stick in that way. We had to have players sign a contract at the end of a week that guaranteed that the players went to class. The coaches did not like that but Coach Holland knew that the players came to ECU to get an education. After all, he was a Davidson graduate and if he could do it, he expected others to do the same.
After two successful seasons in football, he is the reason that we added 15,000 seats to the end zone! He and chancellor Steve Ballard were a team. He added renovations to the softball field and the addition of a new track with an administration building for their coaches. He was a frequent visitor at their games or meets because he cared for them as much as he cared about the major sports.
He loved Washington, North Carolina! He would get me to carry him to Bill’s Hot Dog stand and he would mingle with the people like he was one of them. Many never knew he was the AD at ECU. He told me that Ann Holland had marched down Main Street as member of the Clinton High School Band. The first time I ever met Coach Holland, he told me that he knew I was from Washington and had played for Choppy Wagner! I guess he knew about Kugler Field too.
He was the true southern gentleman! He was polite, classy and always cared about people. One time he asked me about what to look for in a college coach. I responded that he was the AD and what did I know? His quick response was that I was a football coach and who should know better than a football coach!
Others called him Terry but I had too much respect for him, so I always called him Coach Holland. He was the best person any man could work for and I am so proud to say I worked for Coach Terry Holland. I wish that I had him sign the big picture of him and Dr. Ballard that hung in my office for ten years. He was a true legend and will never be forgotten! RIP Coach!
They were the best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places, Washington, N.C.! The Original Washington!