by WES FERGUSON
Lehman High’s new head softball coach is a retired 51-year-old military man who believes in structure, discipline, setting goals and following through with them. Bill Holmes’s attention to detail also leads him to do things like writing down his top four coaching principles and ranking them in order of priority.
His leading principle? Academics come first.
“I want my players to get good grades, and I want them to excel in academics,” says Holmes, who was hired by athletic coordinator Todd Raymond last month. “You can be the best pitcher in the country, but if you don’t pass you don’t play.”
Principle No. 2, he continues: “Try to make softball a positive experience. And I do that through teaching fundamentals and proper mechanics. It’s important the girls see themselves improve every week.”
Principle No. 3: “Teaching girls to play as a team – probably one of the most difficult ones – not as nine individual players or three superstars, but to understand their roles as to how they can help the team get better.”
Principle No. 4: “Try to teach life lessons, leadership, dedication, commitment and respect. Once they finish softball they will carry these life lessons with them.”
Holmes is the second coach Raymond has hired in his first year as athletic coordinator, after new quarterbacks’ coach Shane Byrd. Raymond said Holmes’s military discipline gave him the advantage among a pile of applicants to replace Nikki Herrera, who resigned at the end of a disappointing 2012 softball season.
“We were looking for someone with a lot of experience,” Raymond said. “He has an even-keeled mentality, is great in the classroom and has a great relationship with kids, but he’s mature and able to create separation between himself and the kids.”
In addition, Holmes will teach freshman World Geography – his students at his former school, Banquete High School, had very high test scores, he said – and be an assistant volleyball coach at Lehman. He served in the U.S. Navy for 21 years, retiring in 2005 as a chief sonar technician.
“The military taught me to adapt to change, to be creative, to be able to think on the fly, and at the same time to also have a good command,” Holmes said. “Something I pride myself on is planning practices to keep the girls busy. It’s also taught me a lot of leadership skills, to be able to get the message across to girls to buy into the same goals I have for the team.”
For the past five years, Holmes coached softball at Class 2A Banquete near Corpus Christi, where his teams mounted a 9-19 district record over the past two seasons.
“I think I brought the program up to a very competitive level,” Holmes said. “I hope (my win-loss record) doesn’t turn parents off. I hope they judge me on what I do once I’m here.”
Before coaching at Banquete, he also coached his now-grown daughters’ club teams. He said he hopes to work with little league coaches in the Kyle area and offer summer camps and clinics to develop Lady Lobos’ future ballplayers.
While setting incremental goals for the Lehman softball program, he said he focuses on positives and tries to be the girls’ biggest supporter, but not necessarily their friend – keeping that separation that Raymond wants to maintain between coaches and players.
“I try to treat all players equally, be consistent, don’t have any favorites. This will be easy starting out,” he said. “Everyone is on an equal playing field because I haven’t seen any of them before. They’re all trying out for the first time.”