JC Holland has been involved in competitive sports for over 35 years. Recently receiving a phone call from the East Hants Sports Hall of Fame, Holland learned that he was to be inducted into the coveted shrine. The former Saint Mary’s Huskies hockey player and Brookfield Elks fastball player needed a few minutes for the news to break.
“Honestly, it’s a great feeling to be recognized,” said Holland, 67, of Shortts Lake. “On learning of the induction, I was happy for sure. Then I stopped and started thinking about all the places I’ve played, the teams I’ve played for and all the things that happened in certain years. I look forward to the night; I’ve been to some of these sports initiations before and the folks at East Hants are certainly doing a wonderful job.
Growing up in Stewiacke, Holland played ball hockey and minor hockey in
East Hants. Don Garden, vice president and head of research for East Hants Gym, noted.
“JC, like all Hollands, excelled in sports. JC was the straw that stirred the drink, he especially stood out in hockey. Coming up in the East Hants minor hockey system, JC was the guy.
A provincial midget star, Holland’s next stop was the Junior B East Hants Penguins. During the 1974-75 and 1975-76 seasons, the 5-foot-7, 170-pound center played for the Saint Mary’s Huskies in intercollegiate hockey. Holland was a member of two Huskies Atlantic college championship teams and was able to play with and for the elite.
His teammates Malcolm Davis, Bob Warner and Mike Backman would all later log ice time in the National Hockey League. Saint Mary coach Bob Boucher then became a member of the Philadelphia Flyers coaching staff.
“At the time, I guess I didn’t realize how good the quality was on the biggest stage,” Holland said. “It was quite an opportunity after growing up in Stewiacke and playing sports in my home community and in East Hants. It was afterwards that I looked back and realized how good some of my teammates were and what a great coach Bob Boucher was.
Holland was asked to share a special hockey memory.
“My last game was at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. I scored a few points and after the game there were suits all over the locker room. A tall gentleman walked up to me. He said ‘Hi, my name is Larry Pleau, you had a good game tonight. I’m the general manager of the New Hartford Whalers, I don’t have any drafts available, but I want to invite you to camp. I still remember those words.
Holland did not attend training camp for the Whalers, but traveled to Utrecht, Holland to play hockey the following season. He later played four seasons with the Newcastle Northmen of the New Brunswick Senior Hockey League.
In fastpitch, Holland was called back to the early 1970s playing with Brookfield teams. Very versatile, he could play first base, outfield and other positions.
“I played first for Brookfield with the Junior Elks under ‘Chucker’ – John Matheson,” Holland said. “In 1975 and 1976 I played with the senior A Brookfield Elks. It was a big moment for me in the sport, we were young dollars, on the rise. We wanted to beat everyone, especially Dartmouth Dairy Queen. I can still visualize the Halifax Commons filled to capacity, Game 7 in the spotlight between Dairy Queen and the Elks. Wow, that was awesome.
Continuing in high-caliber fastball, Holland played three seasons in New Brunswick with Nelson Belvedere and Richibucto Bears. In 1981, he traveled west to join the Skeena Cedar Kings at BC senior ball. The team played in Terrace, a small town six hours northwest of Prince George.
Playing five seasons against some of Canada’s best fastpitch players, highlights included a couple of championship seasons, being named the league’s all-star catcher and – the dangerous line-hitter won a couple of batting titles in tournament. In his final season (1985), Skeena Molson Kings joined the semi-professional Pacific Northwest Fastball League, Holland was both catcher and team captain.
As a golfer, Holland represented the Skeena area at the 1986 Summer Games. He won the Skeena Valley Golf and Country Club Men’s Championship on one occasion.
“It was a journey of about 20 years,” Holland said of reflecting on his sporting accomplishments. “Everything was really good; it was exciting everywhere I could play. Sport has allowed me to be accepted through doors that I could not have opened on my own.
Kendall Nowe, EHSHF President said the following about Holland’s induction.
“We are delighted to induct JC Holland. He is a multi-sport athlete, excelling in hockey, fastball and golf. JC has done feats in the Hall of Fame and he’s just a fabulous person, the kind we take extra pleasure in inducting into our Sports Hall of Fame.
The East Hants Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony is held in July at the East Hants Sportsplex. We wish JC, his wife Barb and his family members a wonderful and memorable occasion.
Worth Repeating is a weekly column chronicling stories from the past, life experiences and current events. If you have a column idea, contact Lyle at 902 673-2857.