Last night, while I was watching the Knight Relays at St Francis High School in Toledo, I met a college coach from Kent State. As we chatted, I asked him how long that he had been in Toledo. He answered that he had attended the funeral of the Holley boys' mother that day. He had been talking with the boys' father and both boys were competing in the meet, so I was totally surprised.
I first met Nick amd Nate Holley at my first and only football combine in Toledo. They were sophomores and had a Michigan address, which I thought was unusual. I found out later that they were in the process of transferring to Toledo Whitmer High School. They competed hard that evening, which turned out to be their persona for the next three years.
Both played some their junior year on Whitmer's outstanding football team. Last spring, I watched both do their thing in track. This past fall both brothers had a huge hand in the success of the Whitmer football team's finishing runner-up to Cincinnati Moeller in the Division I state football championship.This past basketball season, they used that same aggressive attitude on the basketball court. Both were bench players, but came into games with energy.
Neither brother fits the "size chart," for being high profile football recruits. But they play with high motors and in fifth gear most of the time. Nick was an athletic QB, but not a thrower. But run with the ball, he did. He will be slot receiver for the Kent State Flashes next fall. Brother Nate was a force on defense from his SS/OLB position, and also will be defense at Kent State next fall. Excellent closing speed. Yes, both earned scholarships to play football at Kent State. For sure, excellent "program guys."
Although being at the track meet last night was healthy for all three (including dad), the brothers went beyond the football, basketball, and track competition highs that they have enjoyed for the last four years. They ran last night for the "love of our mom." As Nate said," Mom would not miss anything. I believe she was here today."
Hours before the Relays last night, the Holley brothers attended their mother's funeral. Lori Holley died one week ago. Yet the brothers did what I have grown accustomed to seeing them do their whole careers. They competed with their "track family" and helped Whitmer to a tough third place finish last night.
Having lost my wife to cancer almost ten years ago, I can relate to Nick and Nate to some extent. Of course, my kids can really understand. True competitors just "get it." In tragedy, as cold as it sounds, we just need to "get on the horse," as soon as we can. My deepest sympathy goes out to the Holley family, but with that competitive nature they Holley brothers have, in time they will be okay.