Q&A: Mr. Ralph Holden, Social Studies


Mr. Ralph Holden, Social Studies, sits in his classroom. Mr. Holden has coached tennis at Lake Central for over 20 years and currently coaches at Hanover Central as well.

Sarah Bredar, Author

Q: What sports do you coach?

A: I coach boys varsity tennis here at Lake Central and I coach girls JV tennis at Hanover Central.

Q: Have you coached any other sports in the past?

A: I coached the girls team, varsity, from 1992 to I think it was 2006, and then I coached the boys team from 1994 to about 2009. I took four years off from the boys. My kids were getting bigger and doing a lot more things and I wasn’t seeing them hardly at all, so I took some time off. I came back last year to coach the boys again, so I just finished my second season with the boys. [At] Hanover, this is going to be my third year coaching girls JV tennis. I got into that over there because my daughter was on the team. The first year I did it she was in 8th grade, so I did middle school tennis over there for a couple of years and then I jumped in. It’s a way I can be with her, watch her and help her.

Q: Why did you decide to start coaching tennis? Have you had any experience with the sport before you started coaching?

A: I played in high school, at Highland High School [for] a couple years. My first year teaching here in ‘92, I got a phone call on a Friday afternoon from the Athletic Director, and he said ‘Would you like to coach girls varsity tennis?’ And I’m like ‘Sure, when does it start?’ He said Monday. I had one weekend to get ready for this and I remember I called my old high school coach and he gave me some advice. I just kind of jumped in with just a couple days and kind of went at it and really enjoyed it and loved it and I’ve done it for a long time.

Q: What do you think is a really unique thing about coaching tennis at two different schools?

A: Well, you see the difference in culture. At this school, we have this, I don’t know if it’s a reputation or just the stereotype of a big school like ‘You should be good at everything’ and it took us a long time to get the boys and girls tennis program pretty respectable. As I went to Hanover, there wasn’t this push. I’m not all about wins, at all, but I’m about giving 100 percent and this is your main sport and you don’t worry about any other sport while you’re in this sport and I push that with my kids when they’re in season with me. I don’t see it over there, I’m trying to bring a little bit of that mentality from here over there because I think over there they think ‘Well, no one really expects us to be really good because we’re small.’ I don’t want them to think that way and they’re like that. I’m really trying to bring more of a competitive type of a culture over there.

Q: Are there any times when boys tennis and girls tennis overlap? Is there any difficulty in trying to balance the two?

A: They don’t overlap because they’re at opposite ends of the school year. The boys are in the fall, so they play all summer and then they’re ready for their season. The girls start this next Monday, on [March 14] so they kind of get the crappy, not-very-nice weather that’s very up and down. It doesn’t conflict season-wise but balancing is a little tough for me. I’m one of the coaches for my son’s travel baseball team too, so now I’m not going to be there as much because I’m going to be doing [tennis]. It kind of gets in that way a little bit, but by coaching both things I get to see both my kids and that’s what I’m doing it for.

Q: Have you learned anything about tennis or your coaching style through coaching two different school teams?

A: When I got to this school, I got ahold of the schedule and we had a lot of smaller schools on the schedule that weren’t very good. I did what I could to get them off the schedule and start playing teams that were obviously better than us. You’re going to get better by playing better people, so we got to the point where there were about two or three years where we were just as good as Munster. I’ve always tried to preach to my kids don’t fear anybody because everybody when I first started coaching said they were afraid to play Munster. I played them in high school, and they were better than us, but we looked forward to playing them. I want them to play the best teams so when we start the State tournament, Munster is not the best team we play. I want anybody [who] plays for me to compete and lay everything out there on the court so when they walk off the court, whether they win or lose, and know they gave their best. That’s all I want from them.