written by: Zanne Lamb-Hunt
Erik Holt was born in Buffalo, New York but moved to Annapolis with his family when he was about seven years old. “So, I pretty much grew up in Annapolis. It’s a Lacrosse Mecca! Baseball is like a bad word there.”
His home was across from the water so his summer morning routine in high school was to wake up before sunrise “and go jump on a boat with some buddies, go water skiing right past the Naval Academy, be at the dock at 7:30 and to work by 8:00 a.m.”
He was an All-American Football player who “did okay as a lacrosse player, too. I had one of those big file boxes of letters for football and another one for lacrosse.” Erik admits it was tough to decide which sport to choose when it was recruitment time.
First attending the Naval Academy, Erik was later accepted at Penn State where he played lacrosse for the first two years and then switched over to football. Erik also met his wife at Penn. She was a sprinter on the track team.
She had been a Maryland State champion in high school. “She’s a Frederick girl which is how I ultimately ended up in Frederick.” They have a five year old daughter, Delaney, and a three year old son, Tiegan.
Erik coached both football and lacrosse at Urbana High School from 2006-2009. “I wanted to give back. Somebody had done that for me and so I wanted to pay that forward.”
He went on to play for Team USA in the Bow Hunter Cup and plays Pro as a member of the Charlotte Copperheads. He’s now helping youth and high school students develop to their full potential at LionHeart Lacrosse.
Helping Student Athletes Reach For The Sky At LionHeart Lacrosse
Erik Holt is quick to point out that “at LionHeart Lacrosse, the needs of the players come first — always!”
“We are going to take a young man or woman and in a pretty short amount of time — one, two or three years — they’re going to transform as a player and as a person.”
* Academics Count!
“We do academic progress reports. We require them to turn those in to us. Our team’s average GPA is incredible. On our high school team, if you can imagine this, our accumulative average GPA is 3.67!”
* Community Service Is A Must
“We require students to do community service. We’ve got an incredible number of Eagle Scouts that are in our program.
“So, in terms of total development and being prepared for your future, we really focus on that side of things.”
* Building Character
“We’re pushing these kids to always do the right thing. That’s important on the field and off the field.
“When they go off to do whatever they end up doing, the habit of doing things the right way and not taking shortcuts is built into them.”
* Playing An Additional Sport Is Mandatory
“We require them to play another sport, especially at the high school level.”
* Outstanding Lacrosse Coaches
“I don’t think you can match our coaching anywhere until (maybe) you get to a Baltimore Powerhouse Club. Otherwise, I don’t think you can match our coaching in this region.”
* Preparation For The World Beyond High School
“By the time they finish playing for us and they’re ready to go on to college, filling out their college application, they’ve got all the boxes checked.
“They’re well-rounded individuals and they’re ready. They understand what’s important and why it’s important.”
The Start of LionHeart Lacrosse
LionHeart got its initial start as ‘team camps only.’ The coach that was at Urbana after Erik left asked him if he’d be interested in working with the kids during the off-season. “I did team camps in Frederick for all of the area high school teams.”
After it went well at Urbana the first year, Tom Hawkins (Middletown’s coach) asked Erik to work with his kids, too. And he inquired about the possibility of taking on the other teams.
“So, I went from one team at team camp the first year to five the next year to twelve that last year.” When it grew to five-team strong around 2011, that’s when Erik knew it was time to form LionHeart.
“Five teams times thirty-five kids—that’s a lot of kids! I need to have an organization for this. That’s how LionHeart got started —filling a need in the community and that need grew. It kept expanding.”
Erik did all of the coaching for the first two years. Beyond that, he had the help of one or two assistants. “But, I stagger-started, so I was working with every single team.”
The Biggest Challenge Of Growing LionHeart
“Getting the word out. There are some things that I do really well and some things that I know I don’t do so well,” confides Erik.
“I’m great with coaching. I’m great with working with families. But, spreading the word and kind of bragging about ourselves was really hard for me.”
He explains, “Being a Penn State guy, it’s about humility—being humble. Even if you’re great, it doesn’t mean you should go telling everybody you’re great. That’s was kind of against how I operated. So, I had a hard time talking about how great our kids were.”
Although, Erik admits that it was easier to do that than to talk about himself as being great. “It’s still kind of an uncomfortable topic because it’s not about me; it’s about the kids.”
He adds, “You’ll see that any marketing push that I”m doing is about the kids. I’m not out there talking about what I did yesterday because it doesn’t matter what I did yesterday. It matters what the kids did.”
Advice Erik Would Give Himself If He Could Push The Reset Button
“Hire a marketing company and a Communications Director sooner.” He now relies on ArachnidWorks for his marketing needs.
“They’re doing a great job for us, covering stuff that either I didn’t know about or didn’t have the ability or time to handle. I’m happy to have them helping.”
Erik Knows He’s Making A Difference — In More Than One Way
On the lacrosse side, “We had the first ever player in Frederick County and the first ever player in Washington County make Team USA U19 Indoor Team. Then, last year, we had six players make the U19 USA Indoor Team.
“Guiding those kids through that process and helping them with that success is awesome! They’re doing great things!”
On a more personal side, “A kid can have a tough day and that tough day doesn’t have to have anything to do with lacrosse. It might have to do with something that’s going on at home, or at school, or something like that.
“I think a lot of people —a lot of coaches—don’t take that into consideration.” That includes parents on the sideline.
“When a young man is comfortable enough with me that he comes to me in tears and is talking about something that’s tough in life, I work him through it. Then, a week out on the other side, he comes to me thankful and better from the time we spent. Those are rewarding moments.”
Erik Relies On Google Calendar
“It’s definitely my Google Calendar. I’ve got so many moving parts. I’ve got different e-mails, lots of different things going on in life between the kids and lacrosse and all the other moving parts. I live and die by that thing!”
A Favorite Quote And A Good Read
[Believe deep down in your heart that you’re destined to do great things.] — Joe Paterno
“I truly believe that. And, once you can teach a child to really start to believe in themselves like that, then the sky’s the limit. You’ll start to see them do some really cool things.”
Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink is the most recent book that Erik read. “It’s leading and winning. I think I’m kind of hard-wired a certain way and he makes some great points and brings some great unique experience. That was an awesome book!”
Reach out to Erik Holt at LionHeart Lacrosse today if you have sons and/or daughters who are interested in learning lacrosse or taking their game skills to the next level. Give them the mindset of winners — on and off the field! Give them the edge with guidance from a Pro and the best lacrosse coaches in the region.
They’ll learn to reach for the sky!
20045 Cool Hollow Rd
Contents Provided by Frederick Advice Givers Podcast Episode #089: Eric Verdi Interviews Erik Holt