2020 Hall of Fame – Scottie Holden
By Kathy Blake
Got a second? This wrestling match is over
There is a word used in the South for the act of shoving work and responsibilities aside in favor of freely and nonchalantly being idle with time.
The word is “loafering,” a version of “loafing,” which simply means going slowly at one’s own pace, elsewhere, with no regard for obligations, or clocks.
Scottie Holden, as an athlete, was not one for loafering. A wrestler at Stanley Middle School and East Gaston High School in the mid-1980s, he was quick – sometimes excessively quick – and left opponents pinned before they had time to get their strategy adjusted. On your mark, set…match over.
During Holden’s junior year in 1984, East Gaston Coach Doug Smith complained about, of all things, how fast he finished his matches and got back to the bench. “He got on to me, because my first 22 matches was first-period pin. And he kept telling me I needed to go into the second or third round, because when I got to State it was going to go longer,” Holden says. “So my State final that I won, I did it in 1 minute 38 seconds.”
Smith coached East Gaston from 1978 through 1991, a year that ended in a state title. He knows a bit about timing.
“He was one of the most physical wrestlers I ever coached,” Smith says. “He physically beat up everyone he wrestled. He pinned three out of four at the State Championships, and he pinned a kid in the finals who was about as physical and tough as you’d see.”
Holden wrestled before North Carolina high schools were divided by attendance size. There wasn’t any 1A, 2A, and so on. Everyone was in the same batch. “In later years, they split schools into four classifications, but with him, there was only one state champ in each weight class. Back in that day, you had to go through everybody to win, and he was the first to do that.”
Holden won his state title at 108 pounds.
Being quick, and athletic, helps when you’re the little guy.
“I got started in wrestling with my brother, who was a year and three months older than me,” Holden says. “And, don’t laugh, but we were both small-framed and we played Little League baseball, him as a left-handed pitcher and me as a catcher. And when we got to middle school our stature for being ball players was not equivalent to what was needed.”
So Scottie and Jerry joined the wrestling team. “I won the county championship all three years,” Scottie Holden says. “Seventh, eighth and ninth grade, I won every year. My brother was close to the same weight class, and we pushed each other; we drove each other hard.”
Having a brother along helps in transitioning to high school, too. “When you go from middle school to high school, you’re already nervous and scared, and when you’re on the starting (wrestling) team as a ninth-grader, and you’re competing against 11th- and 12th-graders, it’s definitely a challenge. He was my motivator. We pushed each other.”
Holden’s accomplishments as an athlete and later as a coach led to his induction in the Mount Holly Sports Hall of Fame. “I never even thought of it before,” he says. “I never looked for any publicity. I’m just me. Worked hard all my life.”
That junior year, 1984, was a year for work. Holden says he’s the only East Gaston wrestler to win a true state championship, when all state schools competed without divisions. “There were 15 weight classes, but you had 25 or 30 people on a team. If your record didn’t allow you to qualify for Sectionals at the end of the season, you didn’t go,” he says. “The first round, there were 16 in each weight class and if you got beat you was done.”
Holden was quick away from the matt, too. If making weight was an issue, he could drop it like … now.
“When it was needed to lose 10 pounds during school, I had gotten out of class to lose weight… back in the day,” he says. “I could lose 10 pounds in a school day to compete. The plastic bags, the sweats… I’m glad they don’t allow that now.”
Holden’s senior year, 1985, didn’t go as planned. “I got sick and I had ruptured a blood vessel in my stomach, but I still made it to State,” he says. “My doctor advised me not to go, but I went anyway. I was too weak, and I lost out.” Still, colleges took notice. Chattanooga, Winthrop, Gardner-Webb, and he thought a long time about making the move to Tennessee.
“But I didn’t go,” he says. “I think that, in a way, if your mindset and heart isn’t in it, don’t do it. That is not a sport where you can get help, like have someone tackle someone or whatever. It’s a team sport, but it’s individual. So if your mind and heart is not in it, don’t pursue it.”
Holden pursued coaching, instead.
He was an assistant at Stanley Middle before he coached Mount Holly Middle School in 2002 and 2003, first as an assistant then as head coach. “I led them to their first championship title for Gaston County. Mount Holly had a team for 17 years and had never won,” he says. “I just wanted to work with the kids. I wasn’t interested in being in front of anybody. There’s a lot of kids I’ve coached through the years in Mount Holly, good kids.”
His son, Scottie Holden Jr., took over competition duties for his dad. “My oldest son went through Mount Holly and never had one point scored against him. I was amazed,” he says. “Never seen that before in my life. To see anyone in middle school never get one point scored on them.
“We won some matches 96-0, a perfect score. I told my team, I didn’t think that had ever been done in history. And the second year I coached, we beat another team 96-0.
“Scottie was a born-and-bred wrestler and started in the fifth grade, and we were actually invited to a tournament in Randolph County, and they invited our AAU team in Mount Holly,” Holden says. “My son was in sixth grade and beat an eighth-grader for the 80-pound weight class, and he only weighed 68 pounds. The kid from Randolph, his daddy was the head coach, and they had won the championship in that county for the last three years. But Scottie was 10 to 12 pounds lighter, and he beat him by decision.
“It was a big upset. I ran out on the matt and picked him up and hugged him. I didn’t care if I was disqualified or not. He also won a championship in seventh and eighth grade and was MVP for the Gaston County tournament.”
Looking back, Holden credits his parents – Jerry Holden Sr. and Helen Holden – and his children, his girls Tiffany and Carmen and sons Scottie and Calen. And his brother, Jerry. And Kirk Wells, the East Gaston assistant coach. “He was great with kids, and he pushed us more in a way like a comedy-type coach,” he says. “He made practices great.”
Holden left the sport for a role with Hoechst Celanese’s Mount Holly facility, mostly working with Oil of Olay production that sent bulk product to Proctor & Gamble in Cincinnati. He says he put in “29.83 years, and retired and built a big shop behind my house.”
He can be found, most days, out back in that shop, working on a FedEx truck for Mutschler, Inc., which contracts throughout the southeast for FedEx Ground. He’ll do the maintenance, change out a transmission, service the vehicles. He’s quick to solve issues and take care of business.
But if he’s not there… he may have gone wandering to reminisce about how he’s worked hard all his life.
He’ll be back soon. He’s just off somewhere loafering.
BY THE NUMBERS
County Middle School Champion – 1980-1982 (7th, 8th and 9th grade)
State Tournament qualifier – 1983-1985 (10th, 11th, 12th grade)
State Champion, 108-pound class – 1984 (junior year)
Coach, Stanley Middle school
Assistant coach and coach, Mount Holly Middle School, 2002-2003
Won State title with MHMS
After having had to cancel the 2020 event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mount Holly Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to announce that the 2021 event will be held on August 21, 2021 at the Mount Holly Municipal Complex at 6pm. Tickets are available for $20 at Moose’s Pharmacy and David’s Detailing.