Thanks to Marcus Holman, his family’s love affair with North Carolina and, more specifically, the Tar Heel lacrosse programs run deep.
Growing up in Baltimore, with two former NCAA Division I lacrosse standouts for parents, his -- as well as his two siblings, who were also brought up in the game --affinity for the game was evident in high school.
Holman transferred to Gilman School in Baltimore as a freshman in high school.
“I owe Gilman for how it developed me as a person,” Holman said. “I played football, basketball, and lacrosse. Our lacrosse team was a combined 35-2 my junior and senior years. We capped that off with an MIAA [Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association] Championship and a No. 1 national ranking in my graduating year in 2009.”
Holman served as the team captain of Gilman’s lacrosse and football teams and was also awarded the Tyler Campbell Memorial Award as the lacrosse team's most valuable player in his senior year.
Before committing to UNC his junior year of high school Holman had a very open mind as far as where he could have ended up. After narrowing his list down to four schools he visited each with no favorite in mind but vividly remembers an impression left by Chapel Hill.
Shortly after Holman committed to UNC his father, Brian Holman, accepted a position coaching the men’s lacrosse team's goalkeepers and serving as an assistant coach. “When he accepted [the position] I was ecstatic, and I cannot emphasize how grateful I was to have him here for my four years as a player,” Marcus said.
Like any freshman athlete stepping on to a college campus, his goal was to earn a starting position and get as much playing time as possible.
“I sacrificed a lot during the summer coming into my freshman year to be in great physical shape in hopes that it would separate me from my teammates and it paid off.”
“I was obviously in a unique situation with my father being on the coaching staff but truthfully, during practice and games we did not interact too often because I was an offensive player.” Marcus said.
“However, many of my former and current teammates can vouch for the fact that my dad was always there to listen to anybody on the squad and offer a piece of wisdom. That wisdom was not just about lacrosse but a life’s lesson and I’m very thankful for that. It’s a testament to the type of coach and person he is and I owe much of my success to him.”
Brian Holman’s decision to take the coaching position at UNC impacted everyone in the Holman family as it eventually lead to his wife Laurie taking over as the director of operations for the women’s team and his oldest son, Matt, transferring to UNC in his junior year after being a goaltender for two years at UMBC.
The Holmans relocated from the lacrosse hotbed of the world in Baltimore to Chapel Hill in 2009 just as the youngest child, Sydney Holman, was set to start her high school days. The move was an adjustment, but in spite of the change, she became a three-time U.S. Lacrosse All-America and Academic All-America and a four-time team MVP at East Chapel Hill High School.
Sydney led the Wildcats to 14 consecutive victories and a state championship in 2013. She also ended her high school career by scoring a combined 18 goals in her final two games and setting a North Carolina state record for career goals with 416.
“With Sydney, we knew she had a future in lacrosse,” Marcus said. “She is a very hard worker on the field and in the classroom. I’m excited to watch her and to be her biggest fan for her next three years at Carolina.”Marcus’ career was a special one indeed as he earned first-team All-America honors and ACC Player of the Year accolades as a senior when he led UNC to its first ACC Tournament championship in 16 years.
He became only the second Tar Heel to be named a Tewaaraton Award finalist and finished his career in 2013 as UNC’s all-time leader in points while ranking second in career goals.
“Being a student-athlete at UNC is an awesome experience. The challenge in learning how to manage my time while playing a sport at a high is probably the most valuable skill I took from Carolina. With a day full of practice, classes, tutors, meetings, etc., it is easy to get overwhelmed. However, if you block out time for each activity and commit to focusing on the task at hand, you will find success,” Marcus said.
Since graduation, Holman has continued to play lacrosse at the highest level as a part of Major League Lacrosse with the Ohio Machine. He also competed in the 2014 World Championships with Team USA.
“The same things I learned at UNC like setting personal goals, being a good teammate, and learning time management have all led to my personal success. However, to date, my biggest moment was winning the 2013 ACC Championship as a solo captain at Carolina. That was the best team I’ve ever been a part of.
“My passion for the sport of lacrosse is strong and that is something my family and I will always share and relate to our passion for Carolina. When I say our family bleeds Carolina Blue, I really mean it. This school and community will forever be a part of us.”