on February 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Seneca’s Holder goes for history tonight

When Seneca High School girls’ basketball coach Amanda Holder came onto the scene back in 1974, she had no idea about the ride she was going to be in for.

“I thought I’d do this for four or five years, have a family here and we’d live happily ever after,” she said.

That five-year plan didn’t quite pan out for Holder, who now after 34 years at the helm is set to become just the fifth girls’ basketball coach in South Carolina history to reach the 600-win plateau, which can be accomplished with a Seneca win over Belton-Honea Path tonight at home.

Holder has never been one to harp on her own accomplishments, and still remains humble about her impending milestone.

“I never thought about being in the category with those people,” she said. “To tell you the truth, I still don’t think about it. It’s phenomenal to even conceive that I’ve made that accomplishment.”

On the way to the accomplishment, the long-time coach has guided the Bobcats to state titles in 1996 and 2000, as well second-place finishes in 1978, 1995 and 2002.

This season, she has the Bobcats (16-2, 11-0 Western AAA) on pace to make another run at the state title, showing her prowess on the hardwood that has made her one of the school’s most respected, enduring figures.

“She’s an absolute icon,” said boys’ basketball coach Tef Vitaris. “There’s no doubt at all. I don’t think there’s another coach here you can make that statement about.”

The milestone accomplishment that sits on the horizon actually caught Holder off guard, as her daughter brought it to her attention during the Bobcats’ win over Daniel earlier this week.

Holder actually had almost no idea about her personal win total, because it’s not something that she has concerned herself with over the years.

While a set number of wins was never a career goal, Holder did have the major goal of helping to change the face of Seneca athletics when she came to the school, which is another success that Holder has undoubtedly had a hand in.

“When I came to Seneca in 1974-1975, it was right in the beginning of Title IX and the implementation of all the new things going on in women’s athletics,” she said. “I saw an opportunity right there to help initiate some things I didn’t have an opportunity to do when I was in school.

When they called me and asked if I was willing to start those programs I was all for it, and that helped me stick around.”

In the years since then, girls’ volleyball, cross country, track and field, softball, soccer and golf have all flourished at the school, which has marked a sort of culmination of Holder’s career.

With that accomplished, as well as her accolades with the basketball team, it has looked as though Holder was going to finally hang up her whistle and enjoy retirement over the past several years.

But the dedication she has had to being a part of young girls’ lives has kept her coming back year after year.

“I was so certain that I was going to retire that I didn’t let myself get close to these girls I’m coaching now until last year,” she said. “That’s the thing. We have a group coming in and you get an attachment there.”

Even Vitaris was preparing for life beyond Holder, but he knows it is going to be happen sooner rather than later.

“I would have told you it would happen two years ago,” Vitaris said. “I don’t think she’d ever say it because she’s that kind of person, but if she won state this or next year, I think that’d be her final moment.”

Holder herself isn’t sure when her swan song will take place, as she’s trying to just take it one year at a time, and only knows she’ll be leading the Bobcats through the end of this season.

As for the celebration that’ll come with a Seneca win tonight, Holder isn’t planning on making a big deal of the night, despite how her friends and family will savor the moment.

While it’ll be a little sweeter than the average victory for Holder if the Bobcats prevail, she’s not going to care about her milestone as much as she cares about sending her seniors out with a win in their final regular season game at Bobcat Gym.

“My family is going to be jumping around, but we’re pretty subdued over things like that,” she said. “I’ll probably smile a little bit and say, ‘Well, it’s done,’ and that’ll be the end of it.”