EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of profiles on the 2018 class of the Clinton County Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony and announcement of the winner of the 2018 Wilmington News Journal Clinton County Scholar-Athlete Award is 6 p.m. June 14 at the Expo Center on the Clinton County Fairgrounds. Reservations can be made at the News Journal office. Cost is $25 per reservation. UP NEXT: Bruce McKee.
Susan Burnett Holliday wasn’t into individual type sports … tennis, golf, track/field for instance.
She was definitely a team sport kind of athlete.
So she considers herself lucky to have played with highly motivated players in her Wilmington High School class of 1982 as well as the classes before and after her.
“We were all very competitive,” Holliday said. “None of us liked to lose. In volleyball, none of us were going to let the ball hit the ground.
“I only played team sports. I was fortunate to be surrounded by good teammates.”
For many high schools, girls sports around that time were as much a social gathering as anything else. So to get like-minded, competitive players on the same team, usually spelled success.
Wilmington was on or near the top of the South Central Ohio League standings in both volleyball or softball during Holliday’s tenure.
Holliday entered WHS her freshman year but didn’t play volleyball.
“I was water skiing at Rocky Fork Lake all summer,” she said.
It took a couple teammates to get her off the water and into the gym to play volleyball.
“Lori Allen and Amy Haley told me I needed to go out,” Holliday said. “They helped me.”
And they had to, Holliday admits.
“I had no idea how to play volleyball,” she said. “At practice they were willing to work with me, even though I was on reserve (as a sophomore).”
Holliday earned most improved on the volleyball team as a junior.
But softball was her sport, even though she got off to a slow start.
“I was 10 years old; I was terrible,” she said. “At the (J.W. Denver Williams Jr. Memorial) Park, I played left field. When the ball was hit, I watched where it landed and then went after it.”
After Wilmington, Holliday continued her athletic career at Wittenberg University. Originally, she thought she’d only make the softball team for the Tigers.
But she was so impressive as a freshman for the volleyball team, she was named team captain.
Again, though, things got off to a slow start.
“At the first match, I sat at the end of the bench and wondered why there were only five people on the court,” she said. “And then I realized I was supposed to be out there. It was just a matter of a few seconds but to me it seemed in slow motion. There were senior setters (on the team) and I just assumed they would start.”
She earned volleyball MVP honors twice and when she left Wittenberg she was the school’s all-time leader in assists for the “side-out, best of 3” era.
Wittenberg played slow-pitch softball Holliday’s first two years then switched to fast-pitch. She took a year off as a junior then came back as a senior to earn MVP honors, even though she’d never played fast-pitch softball before.
“I was the only kid that had played slow-pitch in high school,” Holliday said. “They could bring it when I was a senior. I was leadoff so that was kind of fun for me.”
After Wittenberg, Holliday helped Gary Downing as an assistant with the WHS volleyball program and led WHS to two SCOL championships as the head varsity softball coach.
“I owe a lot of my sports (coaching) knowledge to Gary,” Holliday said. “I learned how to handle people. I don’t know what to say. He’s so legendary. How do I put that into words?”