CHARLOTTESVILLE — After a delay of years as a result of his own humility and a postponement of eight months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pendleton Heights boys cross country coach Alan Holden will be inducted into the Eastern Hancock High School Athletic Hall of Fame this Friday evening during the Royals’ home football game.
Holden, in his 35th year coaching Arabians runners, is a 1963 graduate of Charlottesville High School which was later incorporated along with Westland and Wilkinson High Schools into Eastern Hancock schools.
Holden will be joined by late Eastern Hancock coach Clayton Schultz and co-founders of the school’s athletic booster club, John Cain and Chet Ellis, in the Class of 2021. The ceremonies were originally scheduled to take place at a basketball game in January but were postponed due to spectator restrictions.
“Last year we were under attendance restriction,” EH athletic director Aaron Spaulding said. “We didn’t want these inductees to be short changed.”
At the time of consolidation, Holden held the Charlottesville school track records in the mile, 800, 400 and 4x400 relay and was the school’s only three-time Hancock County cross country champion. He was a four-sport athlete who batted .500 his junior year playing baseball and averaged double figures for the basketball team, earning 13 of a possible 16 varsity letters during his high school career.
Growing up in a small town, Holden spent as much time involved in athletics as he could, both in school and on his own.
“During the summertime, I was always outside,” Holden said. “I was always riding my bike. I’d ride to all these little towns around Charlottesville, to Wilkinson, Willow Branch. I rode my bike to Greenfield. I was always doing something.”
The EH Hall of Fame was established in 2008, but Holden never submitted any information on his own behalf. His daughter April King nominated him for this year’s class, and the committee, which included Spaulding, approved him for induction.
“It was years ago, my cousin mentioned to me that they were going to start a Hall of Fame at Eastern Hancock,” Holden said. “He mentioned that I need to be in there right away and asked if I had any information. I said, ‘Yeah, I’ve got it somewhere.’ I just didn’t do anything about it all.”
After high school, Holden went on to compete at the Division I level for Western Kentucky following a previous commitment to Indiana State and an impromptu stop on the way home from a recruiting visit to Austin Peay State University in Tennessee.
“(Austin Peay) didn’t have a cross country program. They just had a track program at that time,” he said. “My dad said, ‘Well, let’s stop by Bowling Green and look at Western Kentucky.’ (The coach) didn’t know who I was, but he came and talked to me about the program. They were just starting one up.”
The coach visited a week later, bringing along a pair of Indiana recruits — including Jerome Beasley from Anderson — and convinced Holden to change his commitment. The opportunity to compete nationally and to run as a freshman were the chief selling points.
At WKU — a nationally ranked program — Holden’s 4x400 relay team held the school record for years beyond his departure, and he earned All-Conference status in both cross country and track and field.
During his Pendleton Heights coaching career, Holden’s teams have won 18 Madison County, 15 Hoosier Heritage Conference, nine sectional and six regional championships. He has also been named HHC Coach of the Year 15 times, and he has guided the Arabians to 23 semistate and 14 state finals appearances and has had 40 individuals advance to the state finals. Seven of those 40 earned All-State honors, including 2005 IHSAA cross country champion Brock Hagerman.
Spaulding believes the ceremonies will be held at halftime Friday evening.