Brown said all the running made her feel like a member of the cross-country team. Carter wondered if Holmes believed in water breaks. If one high-intensity workout took such a toll, how were they going to survive an entire season?
“I must admit I thought about quitting,” Lewis said. “I was like ‘Is basketball for me?’ I didn’t even know. I was like ‘Chayla, Do you really want to do this?’ ”
Lewis, Carter and Brown stuck with it, trusting the man who won 390 games in 22 years as the boys’ coach at Archbishop Carroll knew what he was doing. Now seniors, they all expect to play in college and can appreciate their tough-love leader more than ever.
The 20th-ranked Patriots (20-4) meet No. 14 River Hill (22-3) in a Maryland 3A semifinal Thursday at UMBC.
A former DeMatha standout on the court, Holmes, 57, inherited a six-win team and has increased that total in each of his three seasons, hammering home the same principles that delivered two Washington Catholic Athletic Conference boys’ titles at Carroll.
“I only know but one way to coach,” Holmes said. “Certainly, you’ve got to be sensitive enough that they are females, but they’re basketball players first.”
First he was a ‘Chairman’
Holmes molded his philosophies with influences from several giants of D.C. basketball and has spent much of the past 35 years passing on that knowledge to subsequent generations, emphasizing high-pressure defense and rebounding above all else.
Holmes grew up on 63rd Street in Northeast, honing his game on the hardscrabble courts at nearby Watts Branch Park. At DeMatha, the 6-foot-3 forward earned the nickname “Chairman of the Boards” for his furious work on the glass.
As a senior in 1972-73, Holmes earned second-team All-Met honors, playing alongside future NBA players Adrian Dantley, Billy Langloh and Kenny Carr. That team went 30-1 with its lone loss to Dunbar of Baltimore.
“What’s made him such a good coach I think is what made him a good player: He makes everybody around him better,” former DeMatha coach Morgan Wootten said. “He parked his ego at the door. It never bothered him that some of the other guys got more attention. He was always a team man above anything else.”
After an injury-plagued college career at Northern Illinois and American, Holmes began teaching physical education at Carroll where he served as the junior varsity coach for Jack Bruen, taking the head job when his mentor moved on to Catholic University.
“I was a young guy then,” Holmes said. “I was an intense, aggressive player, so that’s the way I coached.”
In more than two decades at the Northeast private school, Holmes became known for his tough practices, fiery demeanor and kind heart. The Lions won WCAC titles in 1989 and 1993, and the school produced a steady stream of college standouts, including Lawrence Moten (Syracuse), Charles Harrison (Georgetown/Wake Forest), Derrick and Cedric Lewis (Maryland) and Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje (Georgetown).