Jamie Holmes had the house set up just the way she envisioned.
Purchased in 2005, it was finally fully renovated. The flooring was of fine bamboo hardwood. The kitchen and bathrooms were all brand new. It was urban loft living in an older Ohio neighborhood, Holmes says proudly.
And now she is leaving it all behind.
One week from today, the former top assistant at Ohio State will begin her tenure as UC Davis’ ninth women’s volleyball head coach.
“I’m very excited, without question,” Holmes said in a phone interview from her residence in Columbus. “I find myself every day getting more and more anxious to get started.”
Holmes brings a stacked résumé to UC Davis.
She is a winner, having coached the Buckeyes to four NCAA Tournament appearances in her six years, including two visits to the Sweet 16. As the top assistant at Missouri State for five years, she helped transform the program from an 18-14 finish in 1997 to a 25-5 showing in 2001.
She is a good, if not great, recruiter, having helped bring nationally-ranked classes to Ohio State in 2004, 2006 and 2007.
She also has a knack for skill development, coaching four different All-Americans with the Buckeyes, including 2004 AVCA Player of the Year Stacey Gordon.
But make no mistake: If there is one thing to come from Holmes’ hiring, it must be constancy.
UC Davis has a 15-96 record over the last four seasons. If the program is to experience a turnaround, Holmes must stay at the Aggie helm for an extended period of time, and she knows it.
“That sentiment had come across from both the administrators and the team,” said Holmes, who will be the program’s third head coach in four years. “I think they want somebody who is going to stay there for a while, and my intentions are to do so.”
Steve Walker had the same intentions. Then in January, the second-year head coach unexpectedly resigned when the top assistant position at the University of Arizona presented itself.
“Leaving the program is something that I didn’t think would happen right now,” Walker said in January. “My intention was to stay here for a long time, but an opportunity presented itself that was too good to pass up.”
This program cannot afford another such opportunity.
Fortunately, there are reasons to expect Holmes not to dodge Davis, too.
For one, she understands the significance of staying put as a head coach.
“If you take the top 10 programs in the country, most of the coaches have been there for quite some time, if not the whole duration of their career,” Holmes said. “I think it’s important to have stability and stay somewhere for a while so you can really lay down that continuity.”
Secondly, there is more keeping Holmes at Davis than there ever was with Walker.
As told by one high-ranking administrator, the one hesitation that came with hiring Walker was that he had little attachment to Davis. In terms of a wife or family, there wasn’t anything to keep him from suddenly packing up and leaving (as he eventually did).
With Holmes, there is that attachment. She was raised in Davis while receiving her childhood education at North Davis Elementary, and her family lives in the North Sacramento area.
“I’ve always had my mind on that area, like Davis, [Sacramento] State, [Pacific] and programs in that general area,” Holmes said. “When I heard that the opportunity in Davis opened through friends … that was really exciting for me, and I called the very next day. Heck, I think I talked to [senior associate athletics director] Nona [Richardson] before the position was even posted.”
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, Holmes is likely to keep coaching at Davis for an extended period of time because she comes to campus with the right frame of mind.
“I got two bikes: I got my street bike and I got my cruiser,” Holmes said. “I ride them all the time to work (at Ohio State).… I grew up in Davis, so I can’t get that cycling out of my body.”
There is no doubting that Holmes will fit in at UC Davis just fine. All she needs to do is stay.
MICHAEL GEHLKEN likes that Holmes won’t be wasting any time. Next Monday, on the first day of her tenure, she is running her first team practice at 8 a.m. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.