July 8, 2009
The timing proved to be perfect for Laura Lee Holman.
As a result, the former New Hope High School softball and girls basketball standout likely will return to her alma mater as a coach.
Holman last week accepted a job offer to replace Tim Vaughan as New Hope High''s girls basketball coach.
Holman''s hiring is expected to be finalized Friday when the Lowndes County School Board convenes its monthly meeting.
"It all kind of fell into place," Holman said Tuesday. "I was almost to the point that I was debating even doing another year of coaching. I had a successful program and team and with everything outside of the basketball court, but I had a real bad experience with the education experience part of it and I was not sure where needed to be."
Holman coached the Cottondale High girls basketball team to its first Final Four in school history last season. The Lady Hornets finished 22-9 in Holman''s first season and lost to Orlando First Academy in the Class 2A state semifinals.
But Holman, who also coached the softball team at Cottondale High, said she remained uncertain about her future after the school year ended. That was about the time she decided to return to Lowndes County.
Holman said her father, Danny, already had informed her that Vaughan had resigned as New Hope High''s girls basketball to take a job as a teacher and as an assistant girls basketball coach at Columbus High. She said Vaughan''s departure "planted a seed" in the back of her mind that there was an opportunity for her to return home.
That possibility became even more appealing on Father''s Day last month after she was with her family for a large gathering. She said she visited with New Hope High Principal Lynn Wright the next day and asked if the girls basketball coaching job was still open and what she needed to do to apply for it.
Holman applied for the job Tuesday and is now waiting to officially become a member of the New Hope High faculty.
It is unclear what Holman will teach at the school. She worked as a physical education teacher at Cottondale High.
"This is beyond my wildest dreams," Holman said. "When I got the phone call telling me that they had chose me I knew then this is all God''s plan and that this is where I am supposed to be. When you are right where God wants you to be good things are going to happen.
"If you had called three months ago and said you were going to be the girls basketball coach at New Hope I would have laughed at you."
Holman''s decision will reunite her with her older brother, Luke, and a younger sister, Rachel, who will be a senior at New Hope High in the fall.
Holman played girls basketball for four seasons at New Hope High for coach Ricky Jones. She also played softball for five years for coach Cary Shepherd.
Holman went on to lay basketball at Troy University. She averaged 10.4 points per game and led the team with 52 3-pointers in the 2003-04 season to earn Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year honors.
She led the team in scoring as a sophomore (13.0 ppg.) and in 3-pointers (55) and earned second-team All-Atlantic Sun accolades.
Holman paced the team in scoring as a junior (12.5 ppg.) and in 3-pointers (49). She played in only two games in the 2006-07 season before leaving the team for personal reasons.
Holman returned to the team in December 2007 and played in 21 games in the 2007-08 season. She averaged 7.5 ppg. and was second on the team with 34 3-pointers.
She finished her career at Troy with 1,160 points and as the school''s all-time leader in 3-pointers made (196 in 106 games) and attempted (545).
Holman also earned academic all-conference honors in 2003-05 and in 2008.
In high school, Holman played point guard and averaged 18 points and three steals a game as a senior, earning first team all-district.
In softball, she earned all-state, all-district and team MVP honors. She hit .659 as a senior to lead the team, and The Clarion-Ledger named her the No. 1 slow-pitch softball player in the state.
She helped lead the Lady Trojans to state championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
"She was very good in both (sports), and she always gave 100 percent in either one of them," said Shepherd, the longtime New Hope high slow-pitch softball coach. "That''s what you look for in a player. I can not think of a game in basketball or in softball when she didn''t give it all she had. I am anxious to see if she is going to expect that from her players. I feel she will."
Shepherd said Holman always was a "quiet, easy-going" student-athlete who had good relationships with her teammates. She said it is special to see someone who excelled at New Hope High come back and possibly be in position to be a positive influence on the lives of young women.
"I can not think of anything more rewarding to see or to have one of your players come back in a coaching position," Shepherd said. "It is nice just to know you''re going to be there watching her and to be able to come up to her after the game and say, ''Good game coach.'' "
Holman believes the reputation she earned as a hard-working players will help her as she develops relationships with her new players. She will rely on the things she learned as a coach at Cottondale High to help her transition back to New Hope High.
"I know what it takes to get to the next level, and that is really what has drawn me to coaching," Holman said. "I want to give kids the opportunity to get to the next level and to get college paid for and to travel and to go to places like I went to for free.
"It is not all about basketball. My main priority is to help the kids become good decision-makers. I want them to feel like if they have made it through coach Holman''s basketball program that they can make it through anything and that they have been pushed as hard as they have been pushed."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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