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It was a milestone season for long-time Roy-Hart volleyball coach

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 16 November 2015 at 12:00 am

Holahan completes 40th season at Lady Rams helm

Contributed Photo
Roy-Hart volleyball Coach Bill Holahan, center, is congratulated by Athletic Director John Grzymala, left, and High School Principal Gary Bell after completing his 40th season as the Lady Rams varsity coach.

The recently completed high school volleyball season was a milestone one for long-time Roy-Hart Coach Bill Holahan who marked his 40th season at the Lady Rams helm.

"It has been an honor to coach at Roy-Hart especially with all the support that I have had over the years. I still am in contact with a number of my former players who still play with us over the summer," said Holohan who has guided and watched the growth and development of the Roy-Hart program since its humble beginnings in the mid 1970’s.

Those formative years was a time when the team practiced in the Gasport Elementary gym wth the JV and varsity teams sharing one court, when volleyball shared the winter sports season with basketball and when Roy-Hart girls had one uniform that was passed through all the sports during the school year.

"Volleyball was the second season for years when there were four sports seasons for the girls," said Holahan in noting that volleyball played from mid October to mid December with basketball playing in January and February for the first dozen years of the program’s existence.

The sport of volleyball, and the Lady Rams program, has come along way since then. Volleyball became a full season fall sport in 1986 and over the past four decades Holahan’s Lady Rams have scored over 300 league wins, captured 8 Niagara-Orleans titles and 3 section VI championships (1983, 1987, 1996).

"It’s been fun to see girls sports grow so much and gain equality with the boys programs," said Holahan. "Girls have just as many opportunities to gain scholarships as males if they are willing to put in the work."

And Holahan’s program has realized a number of college volleyball scholarship recipients including Bridget Shanahan who is now a senior at the University of Wyoming, Heidi Hildebrandt, Erin Holahan, Grace Swick and Eliza Schwab.

Contributed Photo
Coach Bill Holahan joins in the celebration with his players after the Lady Rams captured their first Niagara-Orleans League title in 1983 by ironically defeating both Medina and Wilson in a regular season ending tri-match.

In earning N-O titles in 1983, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2008 and 2009, Holahan’s Lady Rams very often faced nearby rival Medina in key matches that helped determine the league champions.

The 1983 season was Roy-Hart’s first undefeated season as the Lady Rams claimed both league and sectional titles. The Lady Rams most successful season though was 1996 when the Lady Rams not only went 14-0 in the league but went on to capture the Section VI Class B2 championship and the overall Section VI Class B title with a win over N-O rival Albion.

"Medina was out biggest rival for many years coached by Scott Grimm," said Holahan whose Lady Rams and Grimm’s Mustangs took turns capturing the N-O title every year but one for a very competitive 15 year period from 1983-1997.

"We went back and forth quit a bit," said Grimm. "It was always great competition. Bill’s Roy-Hart teams were always well prepared, well coached and very competitive."

"Gerri Julius of Wilson was another long time coach that we had many great matches against," added Holahan. "In recent years Albion and Roy-Hart have battled against one another with veteran Coach Ann Capacci at the Purple Eagles helm,"

Holahan, who cites the strong support he has received from the Roy-Hart Athletic Directors over the years as well as the yeoman work of his JV Coaches including Phil Ciarico (7 years), Bobbie Becker (15 years) and Doug Meyer (12 years and counting), has also been very active in volleyball at the Section VI level. He has served as the N-O League’s representative on the Western New York Volleyball Committee for the last 25 years.

"I have been in the Roy-Hart School District for six years and Bill has been a great role model for not only me but for thousands of Roy-Hart student-athletes," said Rams Athletic Director John Grzymala.