Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) and the “C” You in the Major Leagues Foundation (CYITML) have announced Hall of Fame basketball coach Larry Holley, who retired from William Jewell at the end of this past season, as the April Blue KC Coaches with Character honoree.
“Coach Holley is the ninth winningest college basketball coach of all time with more than 900 wins, which is incredible,” said Royals General Manager and CYITML Founder Dayton Moore. “What is most impressive to us, though, is that Coach Holley is more concerned about making sure his former players become good husbands and good fathers than he is about the wins and losses. We’re humbled to select him as the first honoree of 2019.”
In addition to being the ninth winningest men’s college basketball coach of any level with 916 career wins, Holley also is the winningest coach in the state of Missouri. A member of five halls of fame, Holley earned 15 Coach of the Year honors during his career, including the Sears/NABC NAIA National Coach of the Year in 1996 and the 2018 Kansas City Sports Commission Coach of the Year. A 1967 graduate of William Jewell himself, Holley earned varsity letters as a student-athlete in basketball, cross country, and track and field for the Cardinals, and was named the Athlete of the Year as a senior.
“I’m extremely honored to be included with the outstanding coaches who have received this honor previously,” said Holley, who spent 40 years at the helm for William Jewell before retiring at the end of the 2018-19 season. “I appreciate the nomination and will always feel blessed to have received this high honor.”
Throughout his career, Holley earned a reputation for integrity, sportsmanship and humility. And he worked to instill those positive character traits in his athletes through both words and leading by example.
“My father always preached ‘be humble.’ If your pastures are greener, others will see them. Don’t brag on yourself,’” said Holley, who recounts a list of lessons he worked into those in his program. “Treat people the way you’d like to be treated. Win with class; lose with class. Treat each day as an opportunity to get better as a person, as a student, as a basketball player. To be a good leader, you must first be a good follower. Plan your work then work your plan.”
“Coach Holley has built an incredible legacy through his time at William Jewell,” said Christina Lively, Department Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Blue KC. “Not only has he been a winner on the court, he’s also built an incredible reputation off the court, and it’s our privilege to honor him as a Blue KC Coach with Character.”
Selected from nominations submitted by fans, with one honoree announced each month throughout the 2019 MLB season, each Blue KC Coaches with Character honoree will throw out the first pitch at a Royals home game, watch pregame batting practice, receive four game tickets, enjoy dinner in the Royals Diamond Club and visit the Royals Radio Network to record an on-air interview.
Former William Jewell player and Park Hill high school boys’ basketball coach Chad Jones, who’s one of many branches from the Holley coaching tree, nominated Holley.
“Coach Holley’s greatest success shows in what his players accomplish after they are done playing at William Jewell,” Jones said. “Coach Holley is like a father-figure to many of us after we finish up our playing careers. His true legacy is in the success that his players have had as fathers, husbands, and professionally as they move on with their lives after William Jewell. Coach Holley is an excellent example for his players to follow in all these categories. Kansas City has truly been blessed to have Coach Larry Holley leading the men’s basketball team at William Jewell for the past 40 years. He can never be replaced in the eyes of many.”
The son of a coach and superintendent, Holley knew he wanted to be a coach after watching his dad work with his high school players in Jameson, Mo. And following his career as a student-athlete at William Jewell, he also knew where he wanted to coach. More than 40 years later, he now has a lifetime of experiences and memories to reflect on from living out his dream.
“William Jewell was the perfect place for me as a student-athlete, and I wanted to coach here from the moment I thought about coaching at the college level,” said Holley. “The most rewarding thing about coaching hasn’t been just one thing. It’s putting the pieces together each year. Watching the players improve individually and collectively. And watching the young men I have coached at the college level become good husbands, fathers and successful in their fields of endeavor.”
In addition to the game-day benefits, each Blue KC Coaches with Character honoree also will be interviewed on 610 Sports Radio, receive a VIP gift package from Blue KC and CYITML and will be invited to meet Dayton Moore at an event in September at Kauffman Stadium. Additionally, Blue KC will make a $2,000 donation to CYITML in honor of each honoree.
Throughout the season, Blue KC and CYITML will select five more area coaches to be recognized as Blue KC Coaches with Character. All honorees will be chosen based on nominations from the public, which will be accepted until early September.
Those who would like to nominate an amateur coach from the KC area for Blue KC Coaches with Character are encouraged to visit CYouInTheMajorLeagues.org/bluekc.