His palms were sweaty. He could feel the blood pumping in his temples. He clutched his leather mitt and waited to be called to the mound. From inside the bullpen at U.S. Bank Stadium he could hear the crowd roaring. The Macalester Scots were up. Suddenly, UNW’s pitcher Tori Holt questioned why he was there.
“I thought for a split second, ‘Do I really want this?’’’
It had been a long time since he’d gotten bullpen jitters. It rattled him. But, just as quickly as fear had gripped him, peace flowed over him.
“I’m sitting there getting nervous for a few seconds and I remembered God created the universe and I’m as important and loved as anything he’s created. He’s given me purpose—now I just need to get out there and compete. I don’t have anything to worry about.’’
Holt went out and hit the first batter. Once again he turned his focus to God’s purpose for him. He settled down and got the Scots out 1-2-3 for a scoreless seventh inning.
But the score didn’t matter. No, really.
“I kept thinking, ‘I can’t believe I’m 42 years old and I just got a bunch of college kids out!’’’
Never too late
Sure, Holt’s the oldest guy on the team. And, he’s loving every minute of it.
“I didn’t set out to play baseball at Northwestern,’’ says Holt. “It was a total God thing.’’
The Apple Valley native is still amazed at the way his life turned out. He says he’s proof that it’s never too late to go back to school, change careers and, even play college baseball. He’s earning his bachelor’s degree through UNW’s Focus adult undergraduate program with a goal of becoming a full-time college football coach.
Twenty years ago Holt found himself failing college, eventually dropping out and losing a chance to walk on to the St. Cloud State University’s baseball team. Thus, began a downward spiral that led to a life of loneliness, alcoholism and nowhere to turn.
Until he turned to Jesus.
Confidence in Christ
Holt’s life took a new path. He became sober, got work, found love and uncovered what God has called him to do: coach and mentor young men.
He says he tries to instill a confidence in the athletes that he didn’t have when he was their age. It’s a confidence, he says, that comes from knowing God’s love for us. Holt says he tells the Eagles players that it’s that confidence that will serve them well now and later in life.
“It’s not just about finding the confidence to go out on the pitcher’s mound in a college baseball game. It’s about having the confidence to go on that interview; it’s about going in to make a presentation that could win a $100,000 for the company they’re working for. It’s the same exact principle.’’
Called to coach
Holt coaches the Eagle’s football team part time. He says a conversation with offensive coordinator Bryan Johnson helped set his plan in motion a couple of years ago. Johnson told him that if he ever wanted to coach at the college level, he’d have to get at least a four-year-degree.
Johnson says he is glad Holt made the decision to get his degree and seek a career in coaching.
“His passion is real, he doesn’t have to try to generate it,’’ says Johnson. “He’s in the right place.’’
A team effort
Fitting it all in isn’t easy, says Holt who, above all, is a husband and father of four. When he isn’t coaching football, playing baseball, or doing homework, he’s broadcasting high school sports on KSTC-TV Channel 45. But, it’s rounding for home that drives this husband and father of four. Holt’s family takes priority in his jam-packed life.
It’s not easy.
On a recent morning he helps his wife, Angela, get Kristin, 13; Jake, 11 and Morgan, 7 off to school before caring for one-year-old Tyler, making the bed and tidying up the house. He and Angela juggle meals, homework and carpools.
The hours get long and the workload can be challenging.
“I try to get my homework done during the day,’’ he says, adding that every hour of his day has a “to do.’’
He says the Focus program allows the flexibility he needs to get it all done. He credits his UNW professors for guiding and encouraging him when things become overwhelming.
“It can get really tough, but they’ve been great,’’ says Holt.
He’s looking forward to graduation in 2018. If you happen to be at the ceremony, you won’t miss him. He’ll be the guy with the rambunctious pint-sized cheering section. His kids can’t wait to see him in his cap and gown.
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