We remember the legendary coach Holland
Posted at 5:05 PM Monday March 6, 2023
The word “legend” in Webster’s Dictionary is a noun that means an extremely famous or infamous person, especially in a particular field. I was lucky enough to spend 10 years with a true legend, Terry Holland, when he was an assistant professor at East Carolina University. Coach Holland died last week at the age of 80. Much has been said about him as a coach, but I want to talk about him as a person.
Coach Holland has had a huge impact on my life as a person and I’m sure he has impacted many others. He left a precious imprint on me about how a person should live his life. He was quite a simple man and came to work every day in a shirt and tie. He wanted all the people around him to have things that would help them succeed. He was modest in the way he carried himself in public. Always the first to shake hands and smile, and others will never forget that. He was one of the best things that ever happened to East Carolina University.
He was a tall man who played basketball at Davidson College, and wherever he went, he went pro. He knew the direction he was going, and at home football games he could be seen stopping by cars to greet graduates and their friends. He didn’t sit at the basketball game, but rather stood in the doorway with his wife and high school sweetheart, Ann. He never interfered with the coach.
He was responsible for keeping our GPA so high among our teams at ECU. He walked lightly, but carried a large stick. We had to get the players to sign a contract at the end of the week which ensured the players went to practice. The coaches didn’t like it, but Coach Holland knew 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 was the reason we added 15,000 end zone seats! He and Chancellor Steve Ballard were a team. He added the renovation of the softball field and the addition of a new track with an administration building for their coaches. He was a frequent guest at their games or meetings because he cared about them as much as he cared about the major sports.
He loved Washington, North Carolina! He made me carry him to Bill’s Hot Dog Stand and he mingled with the people like he was one of them. Many never knew he was the director of ECU. He told me that Anne Holland marched down Main Street as a member of the Clinton High School marching band. The first time I met Coach Holland he told me he knew I was from Washington and played for Choppy Wagner! I guess he knew about Kugler’s pitch too.
He was a true Southern gentleman! He was polite, cool and always cared about people. He once asked me about what to look for in a college coach. I replied that it was AD and what do I know? His quick response was that I am a football coach and who should know better than a football coach!
Others called him Terry, but I respected him too much, so I always called him Coach Holland. He was the best person anyone could ever work for and I am proud to say that I worked for coach Terry Holland. I wish he would sign the large picture of him and Dr. Ballard that has hung in my office for ten years. He was a true legend and will never be forgotten! Coach RIP!
It was the best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places, Washington, NC! The original Washington!