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Lacrosse coach Cam Holding brings professional experience to MSU

April 12, 2016
Men's lacrosse coach Cam Holding walks down the field as he prepares to run drills for players during practice on April 11, 2016 at Ralph Young Field.  Holding is professional lacrosse player in two different leagues and is the founder of Power Play Lacrosse, a youth club program based out of Lansing, Mich. that he founded in 2009.
Men's lacrosse coach Cam Holding walks down the field as he prepares to run drills for players during practice on April 11, 2016 at Ralph Young Field. Holding is professional lacrosse player in two different leagues and is the founder of Power Play Lacrosse, a youth club program based out of Lansing, Mich. that he founded in 2009. —
Photo by Emily Elconin | and Emily Elconin The State News

Since he was a young kid growing up in Whitby, Canada, MSU lacrosse coach Cam Holding has been working, refining his skill and teaching his peers about the game he loves.

Lacrosse was natural for Holding, as he grew up around it and played whenever he got the chance. His dad, Dave Holding, set the example for his son, as he played semi-professionally before Cam Holding was born, playing in various adult leagues while his son was growing up and coaching his son his whole life.

“My dad’s been playing since he was three years old," Cam Holding said. "He coached me my whole life, and through him coaching me I just developed a strong passion for the game. I just loved doing it, so it was something I want to continue doing for the rest of my life.”

After a season that MSU went just 8-7, the MSU lacrosse team's players decided it was time to make a change and began the search for a new head coach for the 2016 season.

Mark Tratt, a senior midfielder, said the players formed a committee and interviewed several coaches for the position before deciding that Holding would be the right coach to push the team forward.

“His experience,” Tratt said when asked what made Holding stand out as a candidate. “He’s played under a lot of really great coaches, all the way up to team Canada. So he had the experience on the field. He was a local guy, so he knew the territory, he cared about mid-Michigan lacrosse.”

Holding said he heard about the opening from some players he had coached on club teams before and decided it was a great opportunity for him, despite having to split his time between coaching and playing in two professional leagues, outdoor lacrosse league Major League Lacrosse, or MLL, and the National Lacrosse League, or NLL, an indoor lacrosse league.

Cam Holding was drafted No. 2 overall in the 2014 MLL supplemental draft by Chesapeake and was quickly traded to the Denver Outlaws, which was already his home during the NLL season since he joined Colorado’s NLL team, the Mammoth, in 2011 as a free agent signing.

Dave Holding didn’t have the opportunity to play professional lacrosse, so when the opportunity to attend the draft with his dad came about, Cam Holding said it was a special one.

"He’s the driving factor for everything I’ve done. The way he raised me was to work hard and earn things in life, and I think that’s translated to my game on the field and my attitude and personality off the field. And I owe all of that to him, for sure"

“He’s the driving factor for everything I’ve done,” Cam Holding said. “The way he raised me was to work hard and earn things in life, and I think that’s translated to my game on the field and my attitude and personality off the field. And I owe all of that to him, for sure.”

Cam Holding was also given the unique opportunity of being able to play in an adult lacrosse league with his dad, as they were both members of the semi-professional indoor Grand Rapids Dragonfish about four or five years ago, an experience Cam Holding said was unlike any other.

“That was really cool, especially since he coached me my whole life,” Cam Holding said. “And I had always gone to watch him play in men’s leagues and all that kind of stuff. He played on the same teams I play on now, so to play with him at the same time was really cool.”

Coaching from an early age

Cam Holding got a unique perspective of the game in high school, when his family moved to DeWitt, Mich. for his dad’s job at General Motors.

DeWitt High School didn’t have a lacrosse team, but that wasn’t going to stop Cam Holding from finding a way to continue his lacrosse playing into high school.

As a result, Cam and Dave Holding worked with another family in the DeWitt school system to create the DeWitt High School lacrosse team.

“Lacrosse not being in my life isn’t an option,” Cam Holding said. “So we decided to start talking to people, and it just so happened that this other family was looking to get a lacrosse team started as well. So we just joined forces and then got it going.”

"Lacrosse not being in my life isn’t an option. So we decided to start talking to people, and it just so happened that this other family was looking to get a lacrosse team started as well. So we just joined forces and then got it going."

For Cam Holding, though, even once he had a high school team the game wasn’t the same. He had to work with his peers and teach them the game of lacrosse, a game many of them had never played before.

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"I was teaching my peers how to play this game when I was 15 and 16," Cam Holding said. "I guess that’s where the whole coaching would have started. Just the basic fundamentals I would have to go through and teach my peers how to do those little things. That was kind of the extent of my high school career, it wasn’t what I was used to playing in Canada."

Dave Holding said they primarily recruited players from the hockey and football teams, and Cam Holding often expressed frustration in having to teach the game when he just wanted to compete. But Dave Holding said he thinks the experience might have one of the best for Cam Holding.

“That was a tough thing for him,” Dave Holding said. “Cam and I really helped with the whole coaching thing, and I think that’s where he got his start in really teaching people how to be successful and how to do things along the game of lacrosse, how to hold their sticks, how to shoot. It wasn’t a hidden fact that he was the best on the team or anything like that. But his ability on how to teach the others to get better, and things like that was probably the best thing that happened for him.”

Post high school playing days

Cam Holding had a very successful collegiate career playing lacrosse, as he played two years at Grand Valley State University before transferring for his junior season to compete at Division II Florida Southern College.

After one season with Florida Southern, Cam Holding returned to Grand Valley for his senior year and took part in the team's 2011 Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association Division II national championship appearance, while leading the nation in goals and points during his senior campaign.

After college, Cam Holding said he knew that while he was going to play professional lacrosse, he wanted to continue to give back to the lacrosse community and help the game grow.

Dave Holding said he talked a lot with his son about not just being good at the sport, but being an ambassador to help the sport grow.

“Just focusing on starting a program and everybody as you grow up is looking at the whole growth of the game,” Dave Holding said. “There’s a reason right now the game is the fastest growing sport in the country, and it’s for people that don’t take it in a selfish manner, and are not only worried about the successes of it, but also worried about the growth of it.”

In 2010, Cam Holding created Power Play Lacrosse, which was a lacrosse summer camp for people in the area to come out and learn from Cam Holding about the game of lacrosse.

Dave Holding said the camp was never about making money for his son and said he simply saw it as an opportunity to bring the game he loved to an area that didn’t have a lot of lacrosse influence.

“You look at where Power Play Lacrosse started, it was a good thing for him, that’s a summer job, that’s what he does now, but it’s not all a matter of making money,” Dave Holding said. “The whole Power Play Lacrosse thing is family-generated, it’s not all about him being able to make a buck out of it, it’s a matter of growing the game and helping kids develop.”

The camp also takes place in the summer, so Cam Holding said that doesn’t add too much to his hectic life during any of his other lacrosse seasons.

As for MSU, Cam Holding said he is happy where he is at, and although it would be difficult to make happen, he would love to be a part of making MSU lacrosse a varsity sport again.

The players seem happy with their choice, too, as they said they have been able to work their schedule to ensure their coach doesn’t have to miss too much instructional time with them.

Kevin Horton, a senior midfielder, said he thinks Cam Holding has brought a new perspective to the MSU lacrosse team and brought a better sense of the game.

"The guys we had in the past knew the game, but he’s played at all levels. He played club lacrosse, so we have that in common with him, and obviously his success with professional lacrosse and team Canada. He was able to bring a whole new level of the game towards us and give us a lot of different angles to look at and benefit us."

“Better lacrosse background all around,” Horton said. “The guys we had in the past knew the game, but he’s played at all levels. He played club lacrosse, so we have that in common with him, and obviously his success with professional lacrosse and team Canada. He was able to bring a whole new level of the game towards us and give us a lot of different angles to look at and benefit us.”

Dave Holding said even when Cam Holding is done playing professionally, he expects his son will continue to help grow and shape the game as he continues teaching the game and molding younger players.

Cam Holding said he would love to continue coaching. He said he would probably prefer to continue coaching at the college level since there is more to do and an opportunity to have a big impact on young lives.

“At this point, professionally you’re only two days a week on the weekends, so it’s not too crazy and I really do like working with the college players,” Cam Holding said. “Again, trying to connect with them and make a difference not only in their lacrosse careers, but their lives, I think that’s pretty rewarding.”

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