The Wolfpacker

Nov-Dec 2021

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 ■ 41 top 10 at the NCAA Championship meet in six of the eight years it qualified, with fourth-place finishes four consecutive years (2016-19) until COVID canceled the 2020 meet. Last year's squad finished eighth. Even more impressively, Holloway's women's program, which had only regis- tered one top-10 finish in school history before his arrival, not only has four top-10 finishes, but was runner-up in last spring's championship, the highest finish for either program. Not the Intended Target Yow had no intention of hiring Hol- loway. As was often her approach, she wanted a proven head coach, someone who had experience winning championships. Her initial focus was on Michigan men's coach Mike Bottom, who was coming off his first Big Ten championship. Instead, Bottom got a raise from his school and assumed responsibility of the Wolverine women's program. At that time, Holloway was the associate head coach at Virginia Tech, in charge of his own swimming groups, but without the title or experience of being a head coach. It was, however, something he badly wanted. "Let me tell you, when Braden walked in the door and we sat down with him and he began to talk about the program and what could happen here if he had reasonable types of support, it blew me away," Yow remembered. "It just blew me away. I re- member when he left, I was thinking, wait a minute: He hasn't been a head coach yet, but he sounds like a head coach. "He has a plan that's better than a lot of head coaches would have. And he loves this place." Yow had hired enough people through the years to know that she should never aspire to hire an alum just because of his or her connection to the school, but in this case, with Holloway's preparation and drive, "it was icing on the cake, when all the other factors were in place." It was a risk she was willing to take, based on the input she received from alumni still closely connected to the program. "We decided we wanted to take the risk because of who he was and who he could attract to this place, both as assistants and as student-athletes," Yow said. "He's done that and more." Former NCAA champion and Olym- pic gold medal winner David Fox fully supported Yow's decision, knowing that Holloway was capable of rebuilding the swimming family and recreating the high- est level of success. "He kind of checked all the boxes for her and for all the alums who were paying atten- tion," said Fox, who is now a partner with Goldman Sachs in Texas. "We were looking for specific things: Can he recruit at the col- lege level? Can he make kids get faster? Can he inspire a program to raise their sights? "Frankly, he has overachieved our most optimistic expectations." In 10 years, Holloway has won seven consecutive ACC men's titles, two women's league titles and taken both programs to their highest-ever finishes at the NCAA Championships, while coaching 13 NCAA individual and relay champions. PHOTO BY TIM PEELER

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