Sports Commentary 4/23/13: The Record, The Man, Trouble Times
THE RECORD, THE MAN, TROUBLE TIMES
The record is a long and illustrious one. 1,403 wins, most among active Division III college baseball coaches, the winningest coach in all of New England intercollegiate athletic history. Four national championships, most recently in 2002, a combined 18 Little East regular and post season championships, 11 straight 30 win seasons from 2001-2011, four time national Coach of the Year, 14 time regional Coach of the Year. For legendary Eastern Connecticut State University baseball coach Bill Holowaty the record stretches over 45 seasons since his days as a two sport star at UCONN, where he played with such legends as Wes Bialosuknia and Tom Penders and earned a spot on the UCONN basketball All Century ballot. The record, many would say, speaks for itself. But no record should ever stand on it’s own. There are real people behind every record, and real personal issues. For Holowaty, for whom winning had become a passion, some close to him defining it as an obsession, there were moments where an obsessive nature took over. In 1997 he was suspended for three games without pay by the university for kicking a player in the dugout. He apologized for the incident saying, in a heated moment during a game he’d intended to kick the bench and connected with the player by accident. But there were other complaints from players that at times the coach could be agressive in his nature, once shoving a player into a chair. Particularly in light of recent events at Rutgers University, which have colleges everywhere reevaluating the behavior of all of their coaches, such behavior must be examined in a new light. Yesterday Eastern Connecticut announced it is making, for “pesonnel matters”, what it calls, a “temporary head coaching change”, suspending Holowaty for the remainder of the season and for any post season play, which is likely with the Warriors currently 21-8 on the season, and replacing him for that duration with assistant coach Michael Grant. There were indications last spring that problems may have surfaced within the program. In May Holowaty’s son Jared resigned as the head coach at Whitman College to take an assistant’s position on his father’s staff. At the end of the season Bob Wojick, an eastern Connecticut baseball legend at Windham High School and as a player under holowaty at Eastern, was unceremoniously dismissed, seemingly without reasonable cause, after more than 40 years as Holowaty’s top assistant and closest friend. Jared has since left Eastern and is now in his first season as an assistant coach at Montclair State. Whatever role, if any, these incidents played in Eastern’s review of their baseball program I don’t know. I also don’t know if they were indications of a pattern of behavior that led to the decision to suspend Holowaty, but I’ve known Bill Holowaty for most of those 45 years, during which he has been a solid representative of Eastern Connecticut University and I have always known him to be a good man, a fine coach and, as residents of the same small town, a solid citizen. Eventually some of the information behind the current situation in the Eastern baseball program will come to light and hopefully it won’t be enough to indelibly stain an otherwise stellar record. As I said, and I do believe, a record should never speak for itself, but I also believe Bill Holowaty has earned the right to go out on his own terms. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.