One-man volleyball team brings message to DBHS

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 2, 2003

COAL GROVE - Various school and community volleyball teams

will have stiff competition this weekend - from one man.

Bob Holmes is a one-man volleyball team who has faced more than 200,000 opponents in front of more than 2 million people since 1986. At 6 p.m. Saturday, he alone will face entire volleyball teams at Dawson-Bryant High School.

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Holmes has won more than 14,400 games with only 280 losses and has been featured on "Ripley's Believe It or Not." Holmes will also participate in various school assemblies throughout Lawrence County, including one at Fairland West Middle School this morning, 10 a.m. Friday at Dawson-Bryant High School and 1:20 p.m. Friday at Ironton High School.

However, according to a release from Holmes, his mission is not one of simply showing off his athletic prowess.

"My mission is to get people of all ages realizing the importance of beating the odds in life. I do this by providing an exhibition where crowds see me beating the odds by playing an entire team by myself in volleyball," he said. "They see a picture that is worth a thousand words that I hope motivates them to never quit, look ahead, have a dream, work hard and stand alone against all odds."

Holmes, a Massachusetts native now living in New Hampshire, said he has never played on a volleyball team. Years ago, he was trying to get in shape and relieve back pain he was experiencing and found that volleyball was a great way to accomplish his goals. He later watched a similar exhibition by the Harlem Globetrotters that was simply done for fun, and ideas began running through his head.

One person standing alone and playing an entire team would be the perfect illustration, he said, for how someone faced with what may seem to be impossible odds can come out on top. This type of illustration, he said, would also draw a large crowd.

"The crowd goes wild and starts having fun when everyone tries to beat me," he said.

After the crowd goes wild, he said, is when he has their attention. Holmes is also an evangelist. He then tells the audience, particularly young people, about how they can stand alone against peer pressure, drugs, violence and other problems they may encounter.

At the end of each program, Holmes said he invites anyone in the audience to play against him. During these challenges, he said he has played against as many as 1,000 people at the same time - and won. Also, he said that the same rules such as court sizes apply for him as well as the other team he faces.

Holmes had the following message for those he will face.

"I'm looking forward to them having a good time with me," he said. "I have a good message that I know they will be helping me get across."

Besides collegiate and high school athletes, Holmes has taken on and beaten several professional football and baseball teams, such as the Baltimore Orioles with Cal Ripken Jr. and Jim Palmer, and many other professional teams.

Dr. Steve Cook, senior English teacher and head football and track coach at Dawson-Bryant High School, said teams playing against Holmes will be the school's girls' volleyball team, a group of senior boys and, possibly, the middle school team. For Saturday, school officials are trying to organize several different teams including some from the Ohio Valley Conference, seniors from other schools and church youth groups.

The students competing against Holmes, Cook said, are not sure if they will win, because "a man who has beaten professional teams must be a good player." Nevertheless, they are very excited to have the chance to play him.

Cook, a former evangelist for Etna Baptist Church in Pedro, is also excited about Holmes' overall message for Saturday's event. Friday's event will mainly center around drugs and peer pressure, he said.

"He had once said that he wanted to tell the kids that Jesus Christ is not just a curse word," Cook said. "That's a novel idea for kids. You don't have to be boring to have faith."

Saturday night's event, Cook said, is not just for young people, but also adults, especially ones who would like to enjoy a fun family activity. Admission is free and pizza and refreshments will be served.

4Also this weekend, the Lawrence County Museum will celebrate its 15th year with an open house from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, with a program honoring past presidents at 2:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served and the public is invited.