Briercrest student brings her love for the game and for God to the diamond
Sidney Holoien has always been a step or two ahead of the rest when it comes to softball.
Holoien was constantly moved up into leagues with older girls, is the daughter of hall of fame softball player Dean Holoien and she now plays for the first ever softball team at Briercrest. Her path from living in Caronport, to Texas and back to Caronport, however, is as complex as it sounds.
Holoien has been playing softball since she was only four years old, and has always had her father there to help her along the way.
"We've been pitching together since I was really little" stated Holoien. "Since I was in elementary school, he's been talking to me about scholarships in softball and he's been talking to people from all around, so that's the route I was going to go."
Holoien's raw talent was enough to play for Team Saskatchewan on two different occasions, as well as playing for a travelling team that went to the Western National Championships in 2011, of which Holoien was named the top pitcher. Her talent was also enough to garner attention from colleges south of the border, but taking those opportunities wasn't always on the forefront of Holoien's mind.
"My first love was volleyball, actually," said Holoien. "It was the sport that [my dad] didn't know much about ... he couldn't coach me in it." Holoien saw volleyball as a chance to express her individuality. "That was my sport."
However, after realizing that she may be undersized for collegiate volleyball, and at the encouragement of her parents, Holoien took her talents to Galveston College in Texas on a full scholarship. She found out first-hand that life away from home can be difficult.
"It was hard," said Holoien. "It was so hard being away from my family and not having any support down there, especially for my Christian life. I found a church down there right away, but it was hard because we travelled every Thursday which was when the college group was, and every Sunday we were gone."
The only thing that kept Holoien in Texas was the support of her family and friends. "I wanted to come home within a week" she laughed, "but my parents kept praying for me."
The support from Holoien's family may have been the one thing that kept her in Texas that year, but it is also is what brought her back home. When asked what brought her back to Caronport, Holoin's answer was very simple.
"My little niece," Holoien stated. "Family is very important to me. She's two now, and that was really hard because my family was talking about how much she's growing, and all these little things that she is doing and I wasn't a part of it."
Even more important than family, however, was the change to her spiritual life.
"I could feel myself losing myself, losing my spirituality," said Holoien. "You really have to have a strong foundation to be that far away. There were people drinking until 5 a.m., and we had 6 a.m. workouts."
Caronport was home for Holoien, but Briercrest wasn't necessarily on her radar, until a conversation with her family.
"My goal was to get back closer to family, and I had thought about Briercrest, but I wasn't sure about it. When I found out that my cousins were taking the [accredited] humanities degree and that they could finish their education degree in Saskatchewan, that's when I knew I was coming back."
After a conversation with head coach Carlie Pagens, and lots of prayer, Holoien found herself suiting up for Briercrest's brand new women's softball team; she was taken aback by the incredible differences she saw between her former team and her new team.
"I've already noticed that the goal isn't winning," explained Holoien. "It's been humbling, but I've found that the focus is more on the team. I'm really happy that I can be a part of starting a team, and that there is so much more going on behind it."
Perhaps above all else, Holoien is most excited for the part that the team is playing in her spiritual life.
"The praying thing has been so cool. I knew we'd pray as a team, but praying for other teams? That's so cool," said Holoien, smiling with genuine joy. "I've had such a struggle with everyone saying 'play for God' but never really knew what that meant until now."
Holoien is looking to make an impact on this team, and on the lives of the people she encounters because of this team. Ultimately, that is her goal.
"I always felt like [my dad] had such a huge gift and he could have talked to so many people about [God], and he didn't. Me being in this spot, and people noticing, it's so cool, being able to do something that's bigger than the sport."