Class of 2010
Lynn Holladay's goal as a young basketball player was clear. He wanted to be a better player than the boys that played before him at Danville High School and the other Morgan County High Schools. While the goal would be simple, the implementation part would take a lot of sacrifice and hard work. Holladay's dedication would pay off as he became perhaps the most decorated basketball player in Athens College history.
Holladay, a 2010 Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame inductee, was a two-time All-American forward for Coach Oba Belcher and Athens College (now Athens State University). He is the school's all-time leading scorer and helped lead the Bears to two NAIA National Tournament appearances.
"I had a great experience at Athens College," said Holladay. "It was a perfect fit for me. Athens was close to home. I played for a great coach who made the game fun. When I was at Athens College, we had the third best basketball program in the state behind Auburn and Alabama. I played on some great teams and most importantly, I developed friendships with my teammates that have lasted a life-time."
One of those former college teammates is current Decatur mayor Don Stanford who says that Holladay was a scoring machine. "Lynn looked like anything but a basketball player," joked Stanford. "But, he had the prettiest looking shot and you never wanted to send Lynn Holladay to the foul line. When Lynn went to the foul line, you could pencil those points in the score book because he almost never missed free throws."
Shooting free throws was something that Holladay did very well then and now. He once made 21 out of 22 attempts in a game at Athens College. Since turning the age of 65, Holladay has made 100 consecutive free throws - not once, but five times.
Holladay's love for the sport began when he was in the first grade. He visualized that one day he would accomplished more on the basketball court than his childhood idols. Players like Lester Ralph, Gary Blagburn, Wayne Bowling and Jimmy Moebes were the high school stars that Holladay looked up to and many went on to have successful college careers.
However, there was one Danville star that Holladay saw everyday that provided the real motivation for his success and that was his older brother Cliff. "I guess you could say that basketball was in my blood," said Holladay. "Cliff worked with me on my fundamentals. My brother knew how to play the game right as evidenced by the fact he held Morgan County scoring records for 40 years. My mother encouraged me to play out on the perimeter because she told me that I wasn't going to be tall enough to play near the basket."
Holladay would lead Danville High School to the Class A State Championship in 1962. The Hawks were 33-2 that season and Holladay was named Most Valuable Player in the state tournament. "Lynn made a good coach out of me" quipped his high school coach and 2005 LSCHOF inductee Morris Schrimsher. "He was such as a smart player and I put a lot of confidence in what he said. Lynn is a good person and has done well in his life. I owe him a lot."
Upon high school graduation, Holladay would take his talents to Athens College. The Bears were a small college powerhouse during the 1960's under Belcher. Holladay's first season at Athens saw the Bears become the first school from the state of Alabama to win a game in the NAIA national tournament. "That was a great moment. We made history," said Holladay.
Holladay led the Bears back to the national tournament his junior season. Former college teammate Rod Goode says that Holladay was one of the smartest players that he ever saw. "I enjoyed playing basketball more with Lynn than any person that I ever met," said Goode. "He was highly competitive and very intelligent. He knew how to play the game. His shooting ability was phenomenal."
Shooting a basketball was something that Holladay did often and well. He led the Alabama Collegiate College Conference in scoring his junior and senior seasons while ranking in top 35 in the nation both seasons in that category. During his four-year career with the Bears, Holladay scored 1,892 points.
Holladay's top scoring game was a 41 point outburst against Troy State. He twice scored 39 points in a game and 14 times scored 30 points or more in a game. He holds both the season and career scoring records for the Bears.
Holladay says the secret to his success was the attribute instilled into him by his mother and brother a long time ago and that is hard work. "I wasn't blessed with a lot of athletic ability. I took pride in being the first player on the court for practice and the last to leave. I studied my opponents. I tried to play the game smart. When I recognized a weakness in the guy that was guarding me, I tried to exploit it. Fundamentally, I tried to play the game right," said Holladay.
He indeed played the game right. Holladay will join Belcher and his Bears teammate Harold Murrell in the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame, an honor that ranks very high with Holladay. "This is a great honor. I played during an era when small college basketball was a big deal. We played in gyms that were filled to capacity. The Athens community embraced us and we felt an obligation not to let them down. It was great that my children and grandchildren know that I was part of something very special at Athens College," said Holladay.