Coach Frank Holleman Leaves a Legacy Behind as he is set to Retire From the St. Augustine High School Swim Team

Coach Frank with former SAHS Swimmers
Coach Frank Holleman with former SAHS swimmers.
Roshane Rodney, Isaiah Rocha, Kai Clark, Jake Welu, Dylan Clark and Germari Rickerson 

Tonight was Coach Frank Holleman's last home swim meet for St. Augustine High School, and former swimmers from as far back as 1996 came out to support him. Holleman has been a swim coach at SAHS since 1995, back when he taught the swim team before school at the Willie Galimore Center in Lincolnville.

Alanna Donley Gowens swam for Coach Frank both at the Cyclones and for SAHS from the beginning of his career in St. Augustine, he was her coach all four years in high school, and he also coached her younger brother and sister. "He is a great coach, but we also loved him, because he was part of the family. It was not just about swim, it was about our whole being as teenagers. He also made it fun. He wasn't just a coach. He was our cheerleader too."

It was an emotional day for many of the current and former swimmers, and Coach Frank clearly tried to hold it all together, although he did get emotional, when he sent off some of the senior swimmers, as this too was their last home swim meet at the Solomon Calhoun Center. 

"I'm really upset," said Curan O'Donnell, a current senior on the SAHS swim team. "He is probably one of the best coaches, I could have asked for. He is really cool. He is really hard on you, and he wants you to get better. I basically grew up on the swim team because of him."

The sentiments were echoed by former yellow jacket swimmers, who had come out to show Coach Holleman their support and gratitude. "I learned everything I know about swimming from him," said Dylan Clark, a former yellow jacket swimmer. "He took me from never swimming competitively to states in 3 years, and I'd say that's pretty impressive. I'm proud of him."

Jake Welu agreed. "I swam for four years, and having Coach Frank as my coach really helped me with values in my life and skills I can use in school and continue to use. Being on time and just keeping us accountable and having a great friendship with all of these teammates. We have people come back that I haven't talked to in a while, so it's cool that he kept us all together."

"I joined Frank's team my junior year in high school," said Kai Clark. "I had never played a sport in high school before this, and he taught me to swim competitively up to a really competitive level, and I got to see what my athleticism could go to. He taught me a lot of skills of life and how to lead a team."

Isaiah Rocha agreed. "I liked Coach Frank a lot. I swam for 3 years. He was a good coach, and he taught me a good work ethic. It definitely improved me as a person."


Coach Frank Holleman's Last Home Swim Meet with St. Augustine High School at the Solomon Calhoun Center

The St. Augustine Yellow Jackets swam against the Raiders from Orange Park, and the pool deck was full of spectators, but all around the pool, the talk centered on this being Coach Frank's last home swim meet.

"I'm kind of bummed that he is not going to be here just one more year for me to graduate," says Jayda Newsom, a junior at SAHS, and she goes on to say that Coach Frank has talked alot about how long he has been coaching, so she is happy for him that he gets to retire.

"Frank is a household name," says Jayda's mom Amy Newsom. He has coached Jayda for 3 years, and he is currently coaching our 9 year old, who is our newest Newsom swimmer.  He means so much for our family, he's left such a strong impact on our kids, not just in the pool but also in school, so we're really going to miss him. Fortunately we will still see him at club level with our little one, so we are excited about his retirement and to see what he is going to do with his free time."

Newsom cannot stop raving about Coach Frank. "He got our oldest daughter [Jasmyn Newsom] into college as a collegiate swimmer. He pushed her to do her best her junior and senior year and made that connection for her, so she is now a freshman swimmer at Indian River State College. There are also some other kids from last year's senior group that he influenced and got to the collegiate level. He's had a big of impact on a lot of kids in the community."

Jay Weed, the father of senior Carson Weed, has been a big part of the St. Augustine High School swim team for several years, and he is thankful that Holleman stayed around until all of his children graduated. "He coached all of my kids, and Coach Frank helped them a lot," Weed says. Grace Weed is currently swimming at East Carolina University, and Jason Weed is swimming for the University of Lynchburg in Virginia. 

"He gave his all to every swimmer," says Yvonne Sanks [Maiden name Nolan], who started swimming under Coach Frank around 2002, when she joined the Cyclone's swim team around the age of 10 and all the way up through her senior year in high school. "No matter the level of dedication of the swimmer, he was a dedicated and passionate coach and wanted to see us all succeed while having the best time doing it.

Sanks' favorite memory of her time with Holleman was when her team made it to States. "I just missed the cut for finals, so I placed 9th." She explains how Coach Holleman came over to her about 30 minutes later to let her know that one of the other qualifiers had been disqualified, so she was bumped up to finals. "We yelled and jumped for joy, he gave me the biggest hug." Sanks placed 3rd in the finals that year. "We went to many junior Olympics and state qualifying meets together, and I loved seeing him get in the zone just as I did myself. He would pace up and down the side of the pool, and whenever he got excited, he would rub his hands together, talk to himself and speed up his walk. That's when you knew his excitement was all there."


SAHS Swim Coach Frank Holleman with former swimmers Germari Rickerson and Roshane Rodney
SAHS Swim Coach Frank Holleman with former swimmers Germari Rickerson and Roshane Rodney from West Augustine.

"I knew he was going to be tough, but I didn't realize how tough until after the first week of swimming," said Roshane Rodney, a second-generation former swimmer under Holleman, who is now at Flagler College. "Swimming under Coach Frank has taught me to discipline myself. It has taught me sportsmanship, and getting up at 4:40 a.m. to ride my bike to the pool has helped me understand my limits and know when and how to push myself." 

Germari Rickerson spent two years on the SAHS swim team, and he was one of the few swimmers from West Augustine to join the team in those years. "Coach Frank always had that drive to push his swimmers, and that really helped me out as a person and as a swimmer to just keep going and see the finish line throughout. He really had an impact on my life of just trying to get me out of my comfort zone." Rickerson explains how being on the swim team changed him. "Coming from someone, who didn't swim at all, who used to be afraid of water to liking swimming and then joining the team competitively  it was an amazing experience."

Frank Holleman retiring seems hard to believe for many of those, who he coached over the years, but the legacy that he has left behind will never retire, as it is imprinted in all of those lives he has touched in one way or another. 

"For all those swimmers who haven't had him yet," Rickerson says. "They are going to miss out."



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