SPORTS>>Dedication and life lessons
You won’t find Jacksonville senior Rochel Holder’s name at the top of any record books, but her contributions to the Red Devil athletic program far exceeds that of your typical student-athlete. Holder has been a volunteer for the athletic department since her sophomore year, keeping score books for both boys and girls varsity basketball, along with various other duties during her tenure.
That’s not to say that she is not a good athlete when it comes to actual performance on the court or field. Holder has been a starter on the varsity volleyball team for three years, earning All-Conference honors her junior and senior years. She is currently in her second year as a starting outfielder for the Lady Red Devils softball team.
Holder says while her senior year of volleyball was trying at times with herself as the only senior on the young squad, she is enjoying being part of the Lady Devils softball team, a team that has been heralded as a serious contender for not only the 6A-East Conference title, but the outright 6A state title.
“Volleyball was kind of difficult,” Holder said. “I was always used to having someone there who was older and more experienced, but I did it. It was a hard season, there were a bunch of young girls. Softball has been a lot of fun, though. There are so many good athletes on the team.”
As far as Jacksonville capturing state, Holder says the team’s unfinished business from last year will hopefully translate into a championship.
“There are a bunch of inexperienced players,” Holder said. “But I think we will be able to pull it off.”
Holder’s athletic career in two sports will most likely carry over into college. She is soon to sign with Lemoyne-Owen College, a black Christian institution in Memphis, where she will play on the softball and volleyball teams there as a Lady Magician.
Holder’s scholarship will officially be for softball, but a more inclusive scholarship package for softball makes it more of a formality. Holder’s highlight film sent to the school by Jacksonville coach Tanya Ganey was actually a volleyball tape, but the Magician athletic program saw in her what the JHS athletic program has enjoyed for the last three years.
“She’s a solid, quiet hero,” Jacksonville volleyball and softball coach Phil Bradley said. “She leads by example. She is an extremely hard worker; she works hard in the classroom, also. Whoever gets her is going to get a huge asset.”
Jacksonville athletic director Jerry Wilson also says that Holder’s contributions to the program have been immeasurable.
“She’s not just another mere person or mere volunteer,” Wilson said. “She has done community service, she has kept the clock and the book for us before at basketball games. She’s more than just a good student-athlete, she is a good citizen. If you are looking for someone that has dedicated her life to helping and serving their fellow man, that would be her. When she leaves us, man, that is going to be some tough shoes to fill.”
In keeping with her personality, Holder plans to go for a nursing degree while at Lemoyne-Owen. When asked about the desire to work in the medical field, she stated simply “I just like to help people.”
Holder has also done volunteer work at Jacksonville Elementary School, where she helped in the classroom as a teacher’s aid.
Summing up her tenure at Jacksonville High School, Holder says the comradery?SP among her classmates has made the last three years special.
“We have all grown up together,” Holder said. “It is a nice school, the people here are pretty nice. I have learned a lot being with the athletic program; working with others, and how to handle things when the going is bad.”