Five years after the shining moment of his career at South Aiken High, Donnie Holland announced he had coached his final game for the Thoroughbreds.
Holland informed the Aiken County school board and South Aiken principal Bill Gassman that he was resigning as head basketball and golf coach March 7. Holland said he will continue teaching biology and physical education at the school until at least the end of this year.
Holland's golf teams have won four state championships since he came to South Aiken in 1986, but Holland credited the local golf pros and area talent more for the success. It is the 1998 Class AAAA state basketball title which he cherishes the most.
The Tony Kitchings-led Thoroughbreds trailed by one point against Socastee when Michael Tyler scored with a fraction of a second left to secure the crown.
Holland relived that magical day when he watched Silver Bluff win its first state championship this season on a tip-in by Brandon Wallace with four seconds left, the day after he resigned.
"It's kind of like it's almost fate," he said of both teams' victories.
His tenure at the school hasn't always been glorious.
The daily grind of having to juggle five classes and two sports teams has taken its toll on Holland.
"The load's gotten to be too heavy," he said. "The time and energy it takes to do all that does wear on you. It's a real roller coaster ride in coaching. The highs are always good and the lows are always bad."
Holland also mentioned what he sees as a waning interest in athletics over the past 10 years among the school's student body.
"Fifteen to 20 years ago, we probably had twice as many kids coming out to participate," he said. "There's so many distractions now for kids. It's a lot easier to go home and sit in front of the Xbox."
If the opportunity arises, he said he would not rule out the possibility of coaching at the college level.
"I haven't closed the door in coaching," Holland said. "But I've done about everything I can do at this level."
Holland, who has also coached at Midland Valley, Silver Bluff and Williston-Elko during his 28-year career, will represent South Aiken a final time as head coach for the South Carolina team at the Carolinas All-Star Basketball Classic on March 22 in Rock Hill, S.C. He will be joined by Thoroughbreds center and College of Charleston signee Josh Jackson.
Reach Lane Kramer at (803) 648-1395, Ext. 106.
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