Throwback Thursday: Baxter Holman Jr.

Tom Mooney (front left) with 1959 Ontario Agricultural College Redmen football team

Tom Mooney (front left) with 1959 Ontario Agricultural College Redmen football team

When I posted the above photo of Coach Tom Mooney with his 1959 team I was thinking to myself … “who is the other coach in the photo?”. I knew I knew something about him but I couldn’t remember his name. Then, when reviewing an old copy of the Gryphons Lair – Edition 11 | April 2007, (thank you Ian MacQueen) I found the answer … Baxter Holman Jr.. [I had read this story about him a couple of years earlier and this was the perfect jog for my memory.]

In the summer of 1959, Baxter Holman came to Canada to play football with the Kitchener Dutchman Football team. He also coached the line at OAC-OVC Guelph under our head coach Tom Mooney. Baxter had a southern drawl, he was big and he liked to win. It also helped that we had a winning team.

After the football season was over, Baxter returned to North Carolina. He taught and coached at the high school level in the Winston-Salem area for over a decade. He had good teams and was known for being a winning coach.

In the early 1970’s, Baxter taught and coached at Livingston College a liberal arts college at Salisbury, North Carolina. The students, football players and staff held Baxter in high regard. He again was known for being a winning coach. In the late 1970’s, he returned to coaching at the high school level in the Winston- Salem area.

In the late 1980’s, Baxter died. The players, staff and students at Livingston College set up a Baxter Holman Memorial Award. This award is presented to the best athlete, female or male, at the college each year. One can feel the prestige there is to being awarded this award based on discussions with Horace Ballard. Horace Ballard, a former player of Baxter’s, initiated the setting up of this scholarship and provided most of the background on Baxter.

From other sources I learned that Holman was a native of Winston-Salem, NC and played his college ball at North Carolina Central. Most biographical info on Holman leaves out his season with the Kitchener Dutchmen and speaks as if his whole career in Canada was spent with the Montreal Alouettes. It would appear he spent only a season or two in Montreal before returning to North Carolina. His successful coaching career in North Carolina led him to be inducted into the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County High School Hall of Fame.  From the MEAC/SWAC Sports Blog

 After he played in the Canadian Football League, Baxter coached in the Winston-Salem high school ranks in the 1960s. During the years of segregation, he coached at all-black Anderson High, and he piloted Anderson to a 3A runner-up finish in 1966 and a state title in 1967.

When Winston schools integrated, Baxter was named head coach at Mount Tabor, and in a Remember the Titans sort of scenario, he demonstrated to an initially skeptical white community and white players that he was the best man for the job. He was coach of the year in 1970.
Baxter Holman Jr.

From what I can tell Holman’s season as an assistant coach at OAC/OVC was his initial experience as a coach. Redmen Head Coach Tom Mooney, who was also Holman’s coach with the K-W Dutchmen, must have recognized he had the ability to teach and coach, thus brought him to Guelph. It’s impressive to think that his storied coaching career in North Carolina actually has connections to Guelph.

An aside worthy of a separate post someday … Tom Mooney himself came from a great coaching tradition – Miami University in Ohio, the “Cradle of Coaches”. Mooney played for the legendary Ara Parseghian. Mooney’s predecessor as coach at Guelph, Jay Fry, was also a Miami grad. A third Miami grad, Tom Dimitroff Sr. would coach the Gryphons from 1979-1983.

This entry was posted in Coaches, History & traditions and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Throwback Thursday: Baxter Holman Jr.

  1. Ken Hauser says:

    Thank you for this article. I played for Coach Holman at Mt. Tabor. We were so fortunate to have him if only for one year. I know of no one who I knew for such a short time to have such a lasting impact on the lives of many.

  2. Alicia Holman says:

    Thank you for the kind words about, the greatest man I knew, my father. He was truly my hero!

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