Back to the grind

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Holladay makes unexpected return to football

By George L. Jones

The Selma Times-Journal

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Lee Holladay wasn’t going to coach.

At least, that was the plan a couple of months ago.

A bevy of retirements and a 45-year resume that includes just about everything a coach could possibly do made few offers look that attractive.

Then he got a phone call from an old friend, and he had to think more about getting back into the game than he had originally planned.

At 69-years-old, Holladay certainly has his limitations.

His advantage over most other people is he knows exactly what they are.

“I’m better than I’ve ever been, but people don’t think that,” Holladay said. “Do I get tired quicker? You know I do. Can I bend over a lot and carry things? You know I can’t. But I don’t get mad anymore. I don’t get upset by the parents. Coach (“Bear”) Bryant used to always say ‘You do what you can do, and that’s all you can do.'”

So here Holladay is again, at Central Christian Academy just days into his 41st year as a head coach and 46th overall. It will also mark his 15th year as coach of a private school.

A lifelong resident of Dallas County, Holladay has coached all over the state and even spent some time in Florida. His longest stint at a single school was 14 years, and his shortest was three months. He most recently coached as an assistant at Isabella in Chilton County where he spent one season.

He also has two sons that have gone on to be coaches.

If there is a walking, talking dictionary of knowledge about the game, Holladay is it.

“He seems like he’s going to be a great mentor,” said CCA assistant headmaster Darrell Walker, who is also the athletic director, assistant football coach and girls’ basketball coach. “He just brings a wealth of information. I’m going to be a sponge absorbing all his football knowledge.”

Walker and Holladay are just two parts of changes that go all the way across the board for CCA.

The school recently welcomed new headmaster Dr. Norman Messina.

When thinking of coaches to take over the team, Messina thought of the man who had previously worked for him.

The two men are both what one might call progressively old school. They have a certain way of doing things, but they’ve lasted in the business for so long because of their ability to adapt.

“I’m really pleased to be working with Coach Holladay again,” Messina said. “He’s a great role model for the kids. The parents respect him. Some of them tell me he reminds them of their old coach. He’s timeless in regards to the coaching profession.

“He’s always been there, and he’ll always be there.”

Holladay holds Messina in equally high regard.

“He and I get along real well,” Holladay said. “He’s academic first, but he’s also athletic. He’s tough, but you know where you stand.”

Holladay, Walker and assistant Jerry Millhouse have the job of turning around a team that went 3-6 last season.

Toting the motto of “No offseason,” the players are preparing themselves now for their first game.

“We want a better record,” said receiver Stanley Spencer. “We need more leadership from the seniors and juniors. We’re just looking forward to a great season.”

Holladay is spending as much time familiarizing himself with faces as he is preaching X’s and O’s.

He admits he has not seen enough of his team to make a determination as far as number of wins. And even if he had, he’s far beyond driving himself crazy over that.

“I don’t even know all their names yet,” Holladay said. “I have no expectations except to do the best I can and give them all I’ve got.”