Holmes hopes Dunbar tour gains Northern exposure

January 10, 1993|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Staff Writer

At this time last season, Paul Holmes was coaching Dunbar's junior varsity to a Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference championship. Also, he was the assistant on the varsity squad, which went undefeated and won the mythical national championship.

That was last season.

Holmes is now at Northern. The record is 1-8. There won't be any championships this season. No Reebok shoes commercial. Last season's glory at Dunbar seems to be echoes away, but Holmes will be the first to say that he is happy with the situation.

"It's not like last year, but we had no easy road to shoulder either," Holmes said of Dunbar's 29-0 title season. "There was a little more talent at Dunbar, but we had to face tough national competition week in and week out. I do miss that, but I do appreciate the opportunity to run my own program."

The Poets won the MSA A junior varsity title in each of Holmes' four seasons, including back-to-back 15-0 marks in 1990-91 and 1991-92. Some of the players Holmes helped develop include Michael Lloyd, a McDonald All-American selection last season, now at San Jacinto (Texas) Junior College, and Diego Jones, an All-Metro pick by The Baltimore Sun, who is now attending Kilgore (Texas) Junior College.

That success along with the prominence of Dunbar, locally and nationally, has been a benefit to Holmes in his new coaching stint.

"The exposure helped. More than anything coming from a winning program has helped solidify the program here," he said. "We're not winning, but that hasn't stopped the kids from working hard because they know if they continue to work hard that we can have success."

The Vikings' lone victory of the season was a 64-44 decision overNorth Harford in the consolation game of the Gold Division at the Baltimore County Invitational on Dec. 30, after losing their first six.

With four sophomores in the starting lineup, mistakes have been plenty, but Holmes has been patient through this "flip-side" season.

Holmes is the second varsity basketball coach in Northern's history. Manny Werner coached the varsity from the school's inception in 1965 until last season, when he retired from the school system at the end of the last school term. It was the only position that Holmes coveted because he's a teacher at the school.

"It's good to be able to have a different kind of relationship with the kids," Holmes said. "At Dunbar, I would come in at the end of day, and push them for two hours. I never had an opportunity to check on their grades and keep on top of them. You can straighten out a problem by being in the building, and that's what I wanted."

Coaching at one school and teaching at another had become a familiar scenario with Holmes. In 1981, he was a teacher and the varsity coach at Eastern, then transferred to Northern in 1982. He returned as a teacher at Eastern in 1984, and the varsity reached the Maryland Scholastic Association BB Conference finals in 1985-86.

At the end of that school year, Eastern was closed, and Holmes returned to Northern. With a void in the winter months outside of teaching, Holmes spent the next year refereeing high school basketball games in the area. He had coaching offers from other schools, but when Dunbar coach Pete Pompey approached him about the junior varsity position, it was an offer he could not resist.

But with all the success and notoriety he gained at Dunbar, Holmes' dream was to be the varsity coach at Northern. The losses that were so rare for Holmes while at Dunbar continue for now at Northern in its rebuilding process, and he's truly glad to be part of it.

"The staff is very supportive," he said. "We've instituted a study hall program with 25 teachers taking their time for the kids. Our faculty comes to the games and cheers as loud as they can. It's really a lot of fun. We don't have the crowd that Dunbar has, but I think that winning will change that, and, eventually, that will happen."

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