First Posted: 2/11/2009
Two things college coaches look for in a baseball player are power and the ability to hit left-handed pitchers. Neither seems to be a problem for North Surrys Josh Holderfield according to a story from his father, Jeff. As a 10 year-old, Josh was playing for a tournament team and batting against a big lefty.
The kid threw the ball and left it over the middle of the plate and Josh hit a line drive — and this is the honest truth — it hit the kid right there, the affable Jeff explained while pointing to the crown of his head, and it hit off of his head and it went over the center fielders head in the air. I will never forget that as long as I live.
In the seven years that have followed, Holderfield has taken a long trip back to baseball that landed him a scholarship from Kentuckys Brescia University of the NAIA. He also had an offer to play at nearby Montreat. Holderfield — who carries a 3.7 grade-point average and is enrolled in honors English, Physics and Architectural Drafting — accepted a scholarship offer worth $13,000 divided between athletics and academics. Brescias tuition costs roughly $18,000. Holderfield, who works for his dads construction company, plans to major in Engineering Studies.
Were just really proud of him, said Joshs mother, Laurie. Weve always told him to keep his grades first and now it paid off because hes getting academic money too.
To put the deal in perspective, NAIA teams only get 11 scholarships to split amongst a team of 40 players.
Holderfields baseball journey began as a youngster, when he played the sport year round. There was a time when the Holderfield family scheduled their lives around baseball trips that took the family all over the country. When Josh was 12, his traveling team played 127 games in locales such as Minnesota, Cooperstown, N.Y., Virginia and Myrtle Beach, S.C. According to Jeff, the family spent thousands of dollars in travel and equipment, not to mention excess miles added to vehicles. He remembers thinking of the day his son would sign with a college.
Every father has that dream, he said. When you get him outside and youre playing with him, every father has that dream. We made sure that he had the opportunity to grow and excel and find the best competition he had to play and we did that for a long time.
But all the travel and games took a toll on Josh. He was burned out and decided to take his eighth and ninth grade years off. During that time he helped coach the team his younger brother, Bailey, played for.
And thats when the passion returned. Josh decided to try out for North Surrys team his sophomore year. Holderfield competed for the junior varsity the majority of the season, but was made the varsity roster later on.
I didnt really know a whole lot about him, North Surry coach Tim Collins recalled, but as the year went on I figured out he could swing the bat.
As a junior battling through a strained back, Holderfield had the second-highest batting average on the team and won the Coaches Award for his hard work. A brief conversation between Collins and his friend Aaron Biddle, an assistant coach at Brescia, turned the Bearcats on to Holderfield.
I said I got a kid you might want, Collins said. We got to talking back and forth and it was one of those situations where everything just fit. They had a need, Josh fit the need and the school fit Josh.
They were very impressed with Josh. They feel that down the road hes going to help them a lot.
The staff at Brescia told Holderfield there could be an opportunity to play immediately. Working in Holderfields favor is the fact he can pitch, catch and play first base. Although he was recruited as a first baseman, there is the possibility Holderfield could find himself behind the plate, since college teams play much more game and frequently take the field for double headers. Another thing working in Holderfields favor is his 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame has room for more muscle.
Before that, Holderfield has to complete his senior season in which he can play without the burden of choosing a school. Although signing now means opposing teams will try their best against him.
Anytime theres somebody out there to get you, youre going to do the best you can to prove them wrong, Holderfield said. Now youve got to prove why youre going to (play in) college.
Contact Ed Phillipps at [email protected] or 719-1921.