When Mary Institute Country Day School [MICDS]’s retired coaching legend Ron Holtman heard what the school’s new stadium would be called, his reaction was one of shock.
“I was floored,” Holtman said.
The new 1,000-seat stadium – home of MICDS Rams football, boys and girls soccer teams and boys and girls lacrosse teams – has a name; a fitting one, too.
The school recently held a dedication ceremony to name the new facility Ron Holtman Stadium, in honor of the former MICDS Rams football coach.
The modest Holtman said he never considered the stadium being named for him.
“First, they had named the plaza area and then the field. Then somebody made an anonymous gift with the stipulation they would name the stadium after me,” Holtman said. “That kicked off the campaign and made it possible to get the whole thing going. That person is still anonymous.”
The ceremony was held at halftime during the game between MICDS and Priory.
Current Rams coach Matt Buha said the stadium could not have been given a better name.
“I can’t imagine it could possibly be named for anybody else,” Buha said. “I have often reflected with coach Holtman over his career, and about different alumni and players he has coached, and the young men and women he’s taught, and I got a grasp of how wide his reach is and how influential he is, not just for our school but for the community, for the generations he has influenced.”
Holtman patrolled the sidelines as head coach at Country Day – as it was called when it was just a boys’ school – and then at MICDS – when it changed its name as it merged with Mary’s Institute to become a coed school for past 39 years.
He coached his football teams to seven Missouri Class 3 championships, with another three appearances in the state semifinals. Holtman’s teams had a total of 16 appearances in the Missouri playoffs.
He finished with an overall record of 382-101-8 during 50 years of coaching that adds his 11-year stint at Alton (Ill.) Marquette High School. He ranks second among the most-wins-of-all-time coaches in Missouri high school history.
Holtman was elected to the Missouri Football Coaches Hall of Fame as well the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame.
In addition, as the golf coach at MICDS, his teams captured seven state championships during his tenure.
“I had terrific support from the administration to the parents and to the alumni,” Holtman said. “Our kids here buy into what you give them an opportunity to do. We have parents who are go-getters and the kids relate to all that. We’re all very lucky to have that.”
Buha was able to meet briefly with Holtman before the ceremony.
“I wanted him to know in the most sincere way my appreciation for him,” Buha said. “To be able to call him a friend is something I’m proud of.”
For Buha to see Holtman honored in such a way was something he said he will never forget.
“Like his wife [Maggie] said, you’d never know he coached football if you talk to him. He’s a great person. That sounds super generic but he’s a great man. You never hear him talk about the championship games unless you ask him. You have to twist his arm to get that stuff out of him,” Buha said.
Last year, Holtman’s grandson, Teddy Schmid, played for the MICDS Rams. Buha said Holtman never intruded; he never tried to jump in and help.
“He’s so humble. He always wanted to keep his distance,” Buha said. “If I’m a quarter of who he is, I’ll be a happy person.”
Holtman said he is grateful.
“It’s a big honor for me. When you think of where I’ve worked, it is one of the finest prep schools in the country,” Holtman said. “To have the stadium named for [me] along with the satisfaction I’ve had doing the job there, makes this even more dear to me. It’s a wonderful, terrific honor. It’s very rewarding.”