Nicholas Holden - Courage

Nicholas Holden is one of the athletes we will be honoring at this year's Awards Ceremony on Friday February 24th at Cincinnati Moeller High School. 
 
One of his coaches took the time to write this inspiring note about him.
 
As a society we need to make more of an effort to recognize the strength of virtue and its greatness. Please join us!
 
Nicholas Holden - Courage
By Brian Redden

Courage comes in all shapes, sizes, and circumstances.  For those of us in the St. Gertrude Bulldogs Football Program, a shining example of Courage was presented through a very special family who faced a rare cancer with rare conviction and courage that inspired coaches and players alike with their "Get Er Done" attitude and an outlook on life that taught us to cherish every single day we have with our loved ones.

In October, 2010, Tracy Holden was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer called multiple myeloma.  I say rare as it usually does not affect 40 year old Caucasian women, but rather African American men over age 60.  This would be just one of many distinctive traits that the Holden's friends and family would come to learn of them over the next 13 months as Tracy battled this aggressive disease.  One thing was true of her though, and that was her amazing outlook and attitude that she was going to give it her all to fight and do her best to beat the disease. 
 
I vividly remember sitting on the couch in her living room during a friends and family cookout at her over Memorial Day Weekend 2011 when she, then all of 90 pounds, told me how hard she was going to fight to get better and how much she was looking forward to watching her son, Nicholas, play football for our Reserve Football team at St. Gertrude and her daughter, Grace, cheering for that same team.  She and her husband Keith had always been great supporters and volunteers in the program and she hated that she couldn't do more in 2011.

I had the privilege of coaching Nicholas that season as the Defensive Coordinator and OL coach for our Reserve team.  Nicholas wasn't the smallest boy on our team, but he was close.  He was also one of the most fearless, toughest, hard-nosed competitors we had on our roster of 27 young men.  Not only did Nicholas never back down from making a block or a tackle against a bigger opponent in a drill or a game, he also played with a love and understanding of the game that you rarely see from boys in his age group.  On top of that, he was one of our most vocal leaders - letting team mates know when they did things right, taking care of team mates when they were down, and leading us in prayer praying for his mother and another parent from our program who was battling cancer too.
 
It could have been easy for Nicholas to take a break from practice while his mother was in the hospital getting her bone marrow transplant for the better part of 2 months.  It could have been easy for him to miss a practice or two when she returned to the hospital in October with complications from her transplant.  
 
It could have been easy for him to say that football was too hard with all he had going on in his life, that it was too physical when 90% of the kids are bigger or outweighed him, that it was too mentally grinding when his mom wasn't there to welcome him home after getting bruised at practice.  He never did.  He was, and is, a model team mate.  He is a quiet leader who pushed all of us to be better coaches and players, to do better on and off the field, to pray for our loved ones and their challenges while putting ourselves second or third.  He is a hero of mine and I believe is a model of the Courage that SportsLeader seeks to have our young people exhibit.