Asotin baseball coach Jim Holman was humbled when he went up to accept his coach of the year honor Wednesday during the annual Warrior Athletic Association high school sports awards banquet at Lewis-Clark State’s Activity Center.
The longtime coach stood before a crowd of a couple hundred and said there were a lot of mentors in the room that were just as deserving to win the award.
But it was Holman, who led the Panthers to the Class 2B Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association baseball title, that walked away with the honor.
“It’s humbling to be mentioned in the same breath as all these coaches, the nominees and the past winners,” said Holman, who led Asotin to a 20-5 record this past spring. “To me, it’s just all about the kids. It’s about the team. That’s why we do this as coaches is for the kids. No coach has ever won an award or a game without the players, so it really is a representation of them.
“I’ve been to this banquet for several years, and year-in and year-out, you see the coaches that win the award and are just nominated. There is an immense amount of coaching talent and legacies in this area, so it’s humbling to be a part of it for sure.”
Asotin claimed just its second baseball title, its first since 1985, with a 2-0 win May 26 against Kalama in Centralia, Wash.
The Panthers, one of a handful of teams from the area that won a state title and were nominated for team of the year, placed first in the Northeast 2B. By design, the schedule Holman came up with was difficult.
The former Clarkston coach wanted to make sure his group was battle-tested by the time the tournament came rolling around, taking on teams that were up a level or two and sacrificing some easy wins to build up a resume that would withstand the rigors of a deep postseason run.
“They just believed,” said Holman, who will enter his 13th season with the team this spring. “We played a tough schedule. We played Coeur d’Alene, played Moscow, played Sandpoint in preparation for our postseason because we knew we were going to have to beat some really good teams in the postseason. They took their lumps, and it was frustrating to those guys. But in the long run, to beat the teams that we did in the state tournament, I think we look back on those games against those bigger schools as the reason we got it done.”
That team was led by pitchers Devin Fry, who graduated in the spring and has since moved on to play for Wenatchee Community College, and senior Noah Renzelman.
Renzelman played a pivotal role in the title game, as he threw a complete-game, four-hit shutout against the Chinooks, striking out eight in the process.
Fry provided the only run Renzelman needed in the win with a two-out RBI single in the second inning. Terin Judy then scored in the third on a fielder’s choice for an insurance run.
“It was real special, because the kids have been playing for a long time, and (had) a lot of time they put in the sport,” said Holman, who has been in the final four twice each in baseball and football, along with being a high school math teacher and a middle school physical education teacher. “The seniors that have graduated put in four years with us. Fortunately, we have a lot of those guys here with us tonight and they’ll be back for another run.”
Holman thanked the community for the support they have given, not just to his team, but all the teams in Asotin.
“We have a supportive community, of all of our sports,” Holman said. “They support the kids, because really that’s what it’s all about. It’s awesome to win this award as a coach, but being able to coach these kids is rewarding enough.”
The Rick Hill Meritorious award went to Nezperce bus driver Larry Braun, who has taken student-athletes, knowledge bowl participants and music competitions throughout the region. He’s been with the school system for 25-plus years, and Braun also has served as a first-base coach for the softball team and a statistician for the boys' and girls' basketball team.
Boys' athlete of the year — Spencer Schumacher (Prairie).
Girls' athlete of the year — Jordyn Moehrle (Colton).
Team of the year — Troy volleyball.
Coach of the year — Jim Holman (Asotin).
Rick Hill Meritorious Award — Larry Braun (Nezperce).
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