There's a pattern to Churchill senior Jon Holloway's success in track and football and it has nothing to do with the usual chain of events surrounding talented athletes.
Most high school athletic stars have been competing at their particular sport since an early age. But Holloway excels in both the shot put and football although he started relatively late in both sports.
"In junior high, I just wanted to run," said Holloway the other day while preparing to officiate the shot put and discus events at a junior high meet. "My brother (Brian, now an all-pro offensive tackle with the New England Patriots) had gone through there and the coach said I'd have to throw the shot if I wanted to be on the team. I didn't like it."
Holloway was big for his age and fast, but he just wanted to run, something his older brother never did. In high school, the elder Holloway was state champion once in the shot put and twice in the discus. But Jon Holloway was determined to run.
"My brother talked me into playing football my sophomore year," said Holloway, who's almost 6 feet 4 and weighs 215. "He said I wouldn't be walking in his footsteps. I liked track and music instead."
Jon's brother taught him his technique in the shot put, and by the time the younger Holloway left Hoover Junior High, he had increased his personal best by 10 feet, throwing around 40 feet. He was winning and he liked the event.
Two weeks ago, Holloway tossed the four-kilo steel ball 55-5, his longest put as well as the top mark in the state.
Playing football seemed even less likely. Holloway has played the flute since the fourth grade and took up the saxaphone his freshman year when he started playing with a jazz ensemble. Football wouldn't fit in the schedule.
"He just said try it and if anybody questions you or if they give you a hard time about it, send them to me," Holloway said. "Just don't not try, he said. I hated my first year. It was no fun; the JV is scrub, there's none of the fancy stuff the varsity gets, no attention. By my junior year, the only reason I stayed with it was because I wanted the glamor of the varsity. That's all it took."
Holloway made drastic improvements over a two-year period, most of which he attributes to his speed. He discovered his own personal niche. The younger Holloway played and excelled at defensive end, where his speed could compensate for his relative lack of skills.
"He (Jon's brother) told me I had more natural athletic gifts than he does. He's more determined. He does it by hard work; he tells me I'm lazy."
Last fall, Holloway's defensive prowess was recognized both locally and nationally -- he made the USA Today's academic all-America squad as well as honorable mention all-America. He was all-Met locally and received the Touchdown Club's Timmy Award.
Holloway has signed with Stanford, where both his brother and his sister Karen attended. Included in his full athletic scholarship is a guarantee to participate in track and field if he so desires.