Prep Basketball: Holland will pilot East Rowan girls

Published 10:41 pm Thursday, June 30, 2016

By Mike London

GRANITE QUARRY — New coach Kevin Holland brings a background of winning to an East Rowan girls basketball program that has been a consistent contender for decades.
“I know East lost some players — good players,” Holland said. “But it’s not like that’s a program that has to be completely rebuilt. East has good tradition. I’m just hoping to put my stamp on it.”
Among other positions, Holland was an assistant girls basketball coach for several years at Raleigh’s Millbrook High. He was part of that program when it claimed back-to-back 4A state championships in 2012 and 2013.
While Holland is a newcomer to Rowan County, his 2011 marriage to Susan Wall created a firm family tie to Rowan. Holland’s wife graduated in 1998 from East Rowan, where she was a cheerleader, and her parents still reside in Rowan County. A UNC Greensboro graduate, Susan will be teaching across the street from East at Erwin Middle School.
The Hollands have two small children — a 3-year-old girl and a 10-month old son — so this is going to be an ideal move from a family standpoint. The kids will have the benefit of growing up with their grandparents close by, and you can’t put a price tag on that.
“Susan’s parents are retired, and this is just a great opportunity for us to come home and be near family,” Holland said. “The timing was right. We had lived in Raleigh as kind of a mid-point between her family and my family, but I lost my mom to cancer a few years ago.”
Holland is a 1993 graduate of James Kenan High in Warsaw, about 50 miles east of Fayetteville.
He graduated from N.C. State and is a social studies teacher.
Holland actually has been intrigued by the East Rowan job for a while. He applied for the position prior to the 2010-11 season when Karen Garmon stepped down.
East hired Danielle Porter, a former Mustang guard, and in her six seasons at the helm, Porter led one good team (15-11) and two outstanding ones. The 2013-14 Mustangs were 22-4, won the South Piedmont Conference and won the SPC tournament. The 2014-15 Mustangs also were 22-4, finishing second in the SPC, winning the Sam Moir Christmas Classic and reaching the third round of the 3A state playoffs.
East lost the close ones and slipped to 12-14 last season. The Mustangs sagged into a tie for seventh in the 10-team SPC, the program’s lowest conference finish since 1971. East also graduated four starters, so Holland will face challenges. That winning tradition will help.
Holland, 40, hasn’t coached during the last three prep basketball seasons. He spent two of those seasons as the director of athletics at Carnage Middle School in Raleigh.
Holland has heard a lot about Rowan County girls basketball rivalries, and he’s ready to dive into it. East’s SPC games with Carson, South Rowan and West Rowan are almost always exciting. And then there’s the Christmas tournament.
“I understand the nature of rivalries,” Holland said. “When I was at Millbrook, that was the school that everyone in Raleigh wanted to beat. But rivalries make it fun. I’m excited about this opportunity.”