Holloway Anxious for Season to Begin
Sept. 30, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. - Since being formally announced as the head coach of the NC State swimming and diving program on June 29, life has been a bit of a blur for Wolfpack alum Braden Holloway. A school legend in his own right, Holloway has barely had time to catch a breath as he works to resurrect the program that means so much to him.
A five-time All-America selection and 2001 graduate, Holloway won back-to-back ACC titles in the 100 backstroke in 2000-01, took all-conference honors all four years and set an ACC record. He was named to the ACC 50th Anniversary team in 2002, and he still holds the school record in the 100 backstroke, as well as six additional all-time top-10 individual school marks. He finished his career at State by serving as the commencement speaker for the College of Natural Resources at his own graduation, and ultimately married former teammate Mary Mittendorf.
Needless to say, Holloway knows what he is getting himself into.
"As an alum trying to rebuild this program, there is nothing that means more to me than succeeding," said Holloway. "I represent so many people that have put so much into this program. Personally, I want it because it's what I love to do, and what better place to do that than the place you love.
"There are so many people that I want to accomplish this for. I want this program to be one that our alums, current students, and university community as a whole can all be very proud of."
That explains why the charge that Holloway gave himself upon being tabbed as the head of the program is so intense. After traveling to Raleigh for the formal announcement, Holloway immediately set out to identity and hire a staff, touch base with commitments, hit the recruiting trail, and get to know his student-athletes.
Fortunately for Holloway, it took just nine days to sell the family home in Blacksburg. If nothing else, it allowed for a little peace of mind.
"It's been nonstop since day one," said Holloway. "We are all still getting adjusted, and we are still treading water a little bit in some areas, but every day our footing gets stronger."
One area that has been smooth sailing is the support structure surrounding the program. Holloway is quick to point out the efforts of the administration, his support staff and alumni and parent groups for the making the transition relatively pain free.
"The support has been overwhelming," said Holloway. "The alumni support has been unreal, especially from a lot of the younger recent grads. Many of those folks are reaching out and offering to help in any way that they can, and our parent support group is really strong.
"The administration has been excellent. The `Wolfpack Unlimited' slogan is completely how this program will operate. We are not going to accept the status quo. We see it as a challenge to do better and improve each and every year."
Holloway is already seeing bright spots on the roster, as well as clear signs of a program beginning to grasp its new direction, eager to grow and improve. He notes that the student-athletes are anxious to improve individually, but really taking to heart the `team first' attitude as the season approaches.
"The main word is `growing'," said Holloway. "We are still growing as a program, learning the system that this coaching staff uses, and trying to become a little bit more comfortable in the way the coaches coach and the student-athletes relate to us. It's been a positive growth for everyone involved.
"It's been positive based on the new energy that the kids are creating themselves. At first the new coaches were bringing in an energy and intensity, and now the kids are kind of taking that over and creating that culture and attitude on their own. That's what we need to move on."
Holloway sees leadership potential with the men's team's sprint group, noting it's stocked full of bodies focused on creating a team and group identity, as well as a sense of inner pride. As for the women's roster, Holloway says that they are taking advantage of the change in coaching staff to create a new identity for themselves, set their goals and plot the course for achieving them.
"All of these things may seem minor, but together they are positive building blocks that bode well for us in the long run," said Holloway.
Next Friday, Oct. 7, will serve as the first opportunity for the Pack to begin its quest as the program holds its annual Red & White Scrimmage, beginning at 5 p.m., at the Willis R. Casey Aquatic Center on campus. The scrimmage will be held in a format dramatically different from previous versions, including three competing teams instead of the standard two. Results and individual times will not be released following competition.
State will begin its season the following week, Saturday, Oct. 15, against both Virginia Tech and James Madison (women only) at 1 p.m., in Christiansburg, Va.