Eugene Holloman will be in Harrisonburg this weekend for the James Madison spring football game.
Holloman, who starred at Bayside High and JMU, will be there for the game but also to sign copies of his first novel, “The Athlete-Student: Freshman Year.”
The signing will take place at noon at Bridgeforth Stadium on the lower concourse.
Holloman, 32, said he's excited to return to JMU because he’s “going back to where it all started.”
Holloman was a second-team All-Tidewater defensive back for the Marlins in 2003. He switched to running back at JMU and earned a first-team All-Atlantic 10 honors in 2006 and second-team All-Colonial Athletic Association in 2008.
His 1,085 yards in 2006 still ranks 10th in school history for rushing yards in a season. He finished his career with 2,311 yards, just shy of the top 10.
He had dreams of the NFL but two significant knee surgeries before his senior year derailed those plans.
Holloman admits he chose an easy major so he could stay eligible, a decision he now regrets because he didn't take school more seriously.
While some of his college buddies were off to corporate careers or entrepreneurship, he spent the next four years in his parents’ home discovering his passions and what career path he wanted to pursue.
He enrolled in a master’s program to pursue his MBA while working as an elementary school tutor and sales rep for a high-end suit retailer. While not making enough money to pay for school, he eventually landed an entry-level job at a fortune 500 healthcare company. Soon thereafter, he applied and was hired to the company’s leadership development program.
Holloman is a regulatory compliance manager for the same company and is currently pursuing his doctoral degree at Regent University.
Before leaving for Harrisonburg, Holloman took some time to talk about his book.
What made you want to write a book?
My wife and I were foster parents to two amazing children for a year. One was an infant the other was a toddler, and in early 2017 the court decided to send the children to live with relatives. So with so much free time on my hands, I decided to write a list of goals I wanted to accomplish for the year. One of my goals was to pursue a doctoral degree at Regent University in Strategic Leadership. I never considered myself to be a good writer but after writing several leadership papers and receiving A’s, I asked my professor why I was getting all of these good grades. My professor thought I had so much writing potential. Since I was writing so much for classes, I decided to write a story that was very personal to me.
How did you come up with this idea?
In 2013, I participated in a storytelling contest at my job (Anthem). I created a character name “Tootie” who was a very popular high-school kid. I eventually won the contest and thought nothing of it until last year when I discovered a passion and a gift for writing. When I decided to write the novel, I dug “Tootie” back out to be the feature character.
What was the toughest part about writing this book?
To have a vision in your mind and to put it on paper for others to understand and also find entertaining was by far the toughest part. There are so many ways to say what you are thinking. So deciding how you want to write something and anticipating what others may receive from your words is genuinely challenging.
What did you learn about yourself while writing it?
I learned that if I set a goal and lock in, I can achieve it. Where I’m from, we don’t see too many authors so to accomplish this goal is humbling.
What you enjoyed the most about writing it?
I enjoy being free from distraction, meaning that I lock my cell phone up, so there is no temptation to peruse social media or any other apps. It’s just me, and I get the chance to challenge my mind to be as creative as possible.
How long did it take?
It took about nine months with no days off to complete this novel.
What kind of response have you received from former teammates and coaches?
The reactions have been so encouraging. So many teammates and coaches have reached out to offer congratulatory messages and screenshots of their purchases of the novel. The support from them means the world to me.
How many books have you sold and how can others get a copy?
I have sold over 500 books and counting. The novel can be purchased on Amazon or at www.theathletestudent.com. I also want to mention that I have three scholarships on my website for middle and high school student-athletes.
Will there be another book and where do you hope your writing career will go?
After you finish reading freshman year, I promise you will want to know what happens in his sophomore year.
What do you hope people will get from the book?
Most athletes discover their athletic gifts at a very young age. From that point on they work tirelessly to achieve their dreams of reaching the apex of their respective sport. If those athletes don’t reach the top after working years and years, it can be devastating. I have seen some reach the point of depression; actually, I was one of them. So, I want young athletes to go after their dreams but also find other gifts on their journey. If they don’t make it into a professional sport, they will have a plan or another interest area to pursue. I think it is possible to give 100 percent to multiple interest or gifts. We have to discover them and that is why education is so important.
Larry Rubama, 757-446-2273, firstname.lastname@example.org