"I just want to able to say that I did the best I could to make a difference, to leave the world better than I found it and I think that's what drives all of us." – Coach Terry Holland pic.twitter.com/6CYlc5J12X
— Virginia Cavaliers (@VirginiaSports) May 7, 2023
By Jeff White (email@example.com)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — During a conversation they had at John Paul Jones Arena on Feb. 28, two days after Terry Holland passed away, University of Virginia president Jim Ryan mentioned to Wally Walker a quote from the poet Maya Angelou. It was one with which Walker already was familiar: People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Walker recounted that exchange Saturday as he shared memories of the towering figure who coached him at UVA. Walker, who starred on the team that in 1976 won the program’s first ACC title, wondered what Holland would have made of the scene at JPJ.
“Terry would say: ‘What are you all doing here? It’s a beautiful spring afternoon in Charlottesville, Virginia, and you’re inside a building.’ ” Walker told the crowd at JPJ. “Coach, we’re here because of the way you made us feel, and we’ll never forget.”
Holland, who coached Virginia from 1974 to 1990, died in Charlottesville on Feb. 26 after a bout with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 80 years old.
“Though I didn’t know Terry as well as some of his players and some of the coaches and people here in attendance, I knew him well enough to know he was awesome and that I loved him,” Tony Bennett said. “I’m forever grateful to be following in Coach’s footsteps.”
Bennett, who recently completed his 14th season as head men’s coach at UVA, was among more than a dozen speakers Saturday during a three-hour tribute to Holland, an event moderated by Ralph Sampson and Seth Greenberg. Among those who spoke were Holland’s wife, Ann; their daughters, Kate Holland Baynard and Ann-Michael Holland; and their grandchildren, Holland Baynard, Shark Baynard and Eliza-Grey Burnett.
“Terry enjoyed very, very many wins, successes and highs throughout his over 50 years in college athletics,” Ann Holland said. “Without a shadow of a doubt, he would say today he rests easy, knowing he finally won. You see, today, in one giant room, with a basketball court as the stage, the team of his lifetime has come together. He truly loved each person that’s here today, and this is his dream team.
“That dream team is not made up solely of basketball stars. He knew more than anyone that there was no basketball star without the hard work of countless individuals supporting them: the managers, the administrative staff, the young administrators of the future, the families, the fan base and the custodial service staff. Every single person held the same exact value and were critical in creating the dream team.
“And here you are. Nothing would make Coach happier than having all of his favorite people gathering together under his wings, and here we are, under his wings: the UVA, Davidson College, East Carolina and Clinton, North Carolina, families, all here.”
A native of Clinton, the 6-foot-7 Holland played for head coach Lefty Driesell at Davidson. After graduating in 1964, Holland joined Driesell’s staff, and he succeeded Driesell as head coach in 1969.
Holland, who was named Southern Conference Coach of the Year three times, came to UVA in 1974. In his second season in Charlottesville, the sixth-seeded Wahoos upset 17th-ranked NC State, ninth-ranked Maryland and, finally, fourth-ranked North Carolina on consecutive nights in Landover, Md., to capture the ACC tournament for the first time.
In 16 seasons with the Hoos, Holland posted a record of 326-173. He guided Virginia to two Final Fours (1981 and ‘84), three consecutive ACC regular-season titles (1981-83), two Elite Eight appearances (1983 and ‘89), one ACC tournament championship (1976), one National Invitation Tournament crown (1980), and nine NCAA tournament appearances.
“He was kind but strong, honest but empathetic, and he was always about doing the right thing,” said Rick Carlisle, a co-captain of UVA’s 1983-84 Final Four team and current head coach of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers.
Under Holland, the Cavaliers became known for their tough, physical man-to-man defense.
“No one liked playing against us. Tony, does that sound familiar?” Walker said with a smile, looking at Bennett in the front row.
After retiring from coaching in 1990, Holland returned to Davidson to become director of athletics. He later held that position at UVA for seven years (1994 to 2001) before stepping down to serve as a special assistant to John Casteen, then the University’s president. Holland focused on raising funds for JPJ, which opened in 2006. He later spent 10 years as AD at East Carolina before retiring in 2014.
Terry and Ann Holland moved back to Charlottesville, and he was a regular at UVA home games through the end of the 2021-22 season.
“Thank for you sharing Coach Holland with so many people for so very long,” Virginia athletic director Carla Williams told Ann on Saturday after a banner honoring him was unfurled in the JPJ rafters.
On the left wing of the stage Saturday was a Steinway & Sons grand piano, and Grammy Award-winning musician Bruce Hornsby, a hoops devotee and good friend of the Hollands, opened and closed the memorial service with some of their favorite songs, including “The Impossible Dream,” on which Carlisle joined Hornsby for a duet.
Speakers represented the different chapters of Holland’s professional life. From Davidson, there were John Kuykendall, Jerry Kroll and Fred Hetzel, with whom Holland played and who was the No. 1 pick in the 1965 NBA draft.
“I would say to Terry: ‘Thank you. It’s an honor to have competed with you, it’s an honor to have been your friend, and I hope you rest in peace,’ ” Hetzel said in his closing remarks.
Representing ECU were Carlester Crumpler, Skip Holtz and Ruffin McNeill, each an important figure in the history of the school’s football program. In January 2010, during Holland’s tenure as AD, McNeill became the first African-American head coach in any sport at ECU. (McNeill later was an assistant coach at UVA under head coach Bronco Mendenhall.)
McNeill spoke with reverence and affection for Holland, as did the contingent of former UVA players Sampson interviewed on Saturday. That group included Walker, Carlisle, Marc Iavaroni, Jimmy Miller, Bryant Stith, Jeff Jones, Jeff Lamp and Bobby Stokes, whose brother, Ricky, also played for Holland at UVA.
“It’s such an honor to pay tribute to our coach,” Walker said.
Iavaroni talked about how he recently found, on an old iPhone, messages Holland had left him. “There was Coach Holland’s voice, soothing and calm and helpful,” Iavaroni said.
He smiled. “That voice was not the voice that I would hear in practice,” Iavaroni added.
His former players laughed about Holland’s penchant for playing practical jokes, but they grew serious when they talked about the welcoming atmosphere the Hollands created for them at UVA.
“Family is a word used a lot in basketball culture,” Iavaroni said. “It’s not over-used in this case.”
Carlisle transferred to UVA from the University of Maine, and “I came into a situation that from day one was a family,” he said.
Other speakers included University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari, University of Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga and Big East Conference commissioner Val Ackerman.
Calipari lauded Holland as an innovator who was unafraid to use unconventional methods.
“Here at Virginia in the early ‘80s, he was working with a sports psychologist, Bob Rotella,” Calipari said. “What? It’s all we talk about now, and he was doing it in the early ‘80s … He was way ahead [of his time].”
Larrañaga was an assistant coach under Holland at Davidson and UVA. He and Holland’s other staffers “became a part of his family,” Larrañaga said. “He treated us like family, and his family, they were a major part of the time. We were all in this together, and I loved every minute of it. All I want to say is, and I know everyone will agree with me, ‘T, you were the greatest.’ ”
Ackerman, a 1981 alumna of UVA, starred for head coach Debbie Ryan on the Cavalier women’s basketball team.
“At the time, the women’s program was just getting off the ground,” Ackerman said. “Terry was so supportive of the women’s program at a time when that was probably more the exception than the rule. The support was there in every way. He was in support of gender equity, I would say, long before that came in vogue.”
They later worked together with USA Basketball. “I would say Terry had a broad view of the game,” Ackerman said. “He was very much a steward of the game of basketball.”
One of the final speakers was Bobby Stokes, a Charlottesville physician who treated Holland after Terry and Ann moved back to Virginia.
“I was honored, I was blessed, and it was a privilege to take care of Coach,” Stokes said.
He and Holland discussed Alzheimer’s “when he first got here,” Stokes said, “and he never ran away from it. He fought with courage, he fought with dignity, and he fought with a clear vision.”
Near the end of the service, Ann Holland played an audio clip from a radio appearance she’d done with her husband years ago in Greenville, N.C.
“I interviewed my forever teammate and asked him how he would like to be remembered,” Ann Holland said.
His reply: “Like most people, I just want to be able to say that I did the best I could to make a difference, to leave the world a better place than I found it, and I think that’s what drives all of us.”
“He never, ever backed away from a challenge,” said Bennett, who cited a favorite Bible verse in his opening remarks. “He fought the good fight, he kept the faith, and he finished the race.”
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