You know those scenes in action movies where an operative sneaks through the back channels of a building? The runaway dodges pipes to make a quick escape, sometimes passing an unassuming maintenance person who throws his hands up in surrender. The scene would have a different ending if it took place at TU– lead maintenance mechanic Herbert Hollidge just happens to be TU’s club boxing coach. Read on to find out how Hollidge keeps the campus running by day, and inspires students by night.
On a typical work day:
As a lead maintenance mechanic, Hollidge is responsible for the operating systems of campus buildings–things like chillers, boilers, air handlers and lighting systems that are vital to keep buildings operational. He starts his day watching real time graphical animations of building equipment to make sure everything is running properly, then heads out in the field to perform physical checks. “We talk to building occupants to get a sense for how the building is holding up,” Hollidge says. “The daily inspections allow us to do preventative maintenance and fix small issues before they become big problems.” As a result of the inspections, Hollidge knows the ins and outs of campus buildings better than almost anyone.
On his unlikely start with boxing:
“The first time I tried boxing I was in the sixth grade,” Hollidge says. “I got beat up, so I stopped for a while.” He took up the sport again at sixteen and continued during his time in the Navy. “I had a great coach, Dave Sewell, who really made me love boxing. The way he worked with me was inspiring both physically and mentally.” As a coach, Hollidge hopes to ignite the same inspiration in others. “I love it because there’s lots of one-on-one interaction. You can really get into someone’s mind and give them confidence.”
On how he got the coaching job at TU:
“I got my coaching start at Charm City Boxing and loved it there,” Hollidge says. “Then about six years ago I was walking around campus and noticed someone wearing a local boxing committee jacket. It was Patrick Genova, the founder and then President of the club. We struck up a conversation and he asked me if I would consider coaching the team.” Hollidge has been TU’s head club boxing coach ever since.
On the club’s dynamics:
“There’s a high level of accountability and responsibility [among the boxers],” Hollidge says. “I’m just here to provide encouragement.” Athletes make decisions about the club during regular council meetings, and they’re responsible for fundraising and recruiting new members. But former club vice president and exercise science alumnus Julian Reid says Hollidge is the glue that keeps the team going. “We’ve come a long way thanks to great club presidents and especially our coach. We’d be lost as far as boxing goes, and even as far as life goes, without him. Coach is a great role model.”
On building character:
“Lots of people join the club for the benefit of the boxing workout, but it’s really more than that,” Hollidge says. “It’s about building character and taking on responsibility. A lot of the members have really stepped up to that challenge. Phil and Julian have gotten involved in the inner-city boxing community, volunteering as tutors and more importantly as role models to kids in need.”
On why boxing is the “sweet science”:
Hollidge fondly refers to boxing as the “sweet science.” Club President Phillip Phan elaborates: “It all comes down to milliseconds. A movement of one or two inches can make all the difference in a match.” Hollidge says every round tells a story, and he’s captured many of the stories on a dedicated YouTube Channel featuring members of the South Atlantic Association of USA Boxing, to which TU belongs. Most of the videos contain matches of boxers Hollidge has trained, including current TU student Robin Nichols and alumnus Travis Roberts.
On how TU has influenced him for the better:
“Working and coaching for TU has made my life rich in many ways,” Hollidge says. “Mostly by filling it with interesting characters. When I first started working here, I formed a great friendship with one of my supervisors, Ken Weber, and then he suddenly passed away. I wrote about him in an article for the Towerlight, and was contacted by a professor who encouraged me to write and publish my own work. To receive that kind of support and encouragement in the wake of tragedy was incredible. And it’s been great to make friendships with many of the student athletes who stay in touch and let me know how they’re doing as they venture out into life.”
By Amy Juskus