Ten years ago, Marty Holder figured he had coached his last basketball game. Five years later he decided to help Statesboro head coach Lee Hill as an assistant, and three years later he was heading up the Lady Blue Devils.
“I coached my last game for the Johnson boys back in 2009,” said Holder. “I decided to get into middle school administration and really didn’t have the desire to get back into coaching, let alone coaching girls' basketball.”
Holder said many factors went into his decision to stop coaching including his desire to get into administration and to be able to have a bigger impact on the students in Bulloch County.
“I wanted to do more things within the community,” said Holder. “I was a middle school athletic director and an assistant principal. I feel like I was able to help more kids in our community find their path and be able to graduate. That mission is something I was very devoted to and I just felt I couldn’t do that and coach as well.”
Upon taking a job as an assistant principal at Statesboro High Holder began talking with Lee Hill. Holder decided to sit on the bench and give Hill a little help at practice as well. Coaching beside a legend like Hill had its effect on Holder and was one of the reasons he decided to jump back into the arena.
“Coach Hill could see I was starting to get the itch to come back as a head coach,” said Holder. “A couple years under him gives you the confidence that you can do something like that, and after working with the Junior Varsity a couple years, when I finally got the opportunity to be a head coach, I jumped at it.”
Not only did he jump at the chance but you could say he had a little success. In his first year Holder won 22 straight games in leading the Blue Devils to a region championship and the second round of the state playoffs. This year Statesboro is tied for first in the region standings and Saturday night he won his 100th game as the Blue Devils knocked off previously unbeaten and No. 2 ranked Swainsboro 72-42.
“I had some big wins at Johnson but to get number 100 here at Statesboro is a dream come true,” said Holder. “I love this community and this community has been great to me and my family. I can think of no better place to get my 100th win than right here at Statesboro High.”
Holder made a smooth transition from coaching boys to coaching girls which he feels may have been aided by raising his daughters Taylor (10) and Ryleigh (5).
“When the job become available, I was just thinking I have daughters I can do this,” said Holder. “I feel like it was just a marriage made in heaven. I haven’t really had issues with them. I think they like playing for me and they come to work every day and work hard.”
Holder’s decision to coach the Lady Devils may have been partially based on dealing with his own daughters but now he has to deal with the fact that many more people look at him as a dad.
“Coach Holder is not only a coach but also a father figure as well,” said senior Terrika Gibson. “He has high expectations for the team on and off the court and makes sure we fulfill those expectations. He is the most humble and outgoing coach a team could ask for. I enjoy playing for him because even when the odds are against us, he never loses faith in us.”
"Coach Holder is a phenomenal coach as well as a father figure," said senior Madison Lee. "Since my freshman year Coach Holder made a promise to be my coach before I graduate and get me into a good school. I have not committed yet, but Coach Holder did fulfill his promise. He is a very uplifting guy who boosts our confidence every day and never lets us get down on ourselves no matter how practice is going or a game. He genuinely cares for all of us. Since he took over Statesboro High girl’s program not only has our skill on the basketball court improved but also our character as young upcoming women."
The Blue Devils lost two out of three games to Brunswick and Bradwell but seem to have things turned around and are ready to make a playoff push over the next two weeks.
“We won by 20 Friday against Richmond Hill and now beat a very good Swainsboro team by 24 points,” said Holder. “Defensively we are really making a difference right now and that is what is important to me. We have been playing consistent defense and that is what will win us championships. I want us to be peaking at the right time and I believe we are.”
The Blue Devils travel to Glynn Academy Tuesday for a 6:00 start.