GOSHEN — Multi-sport student-athletes who excelled academically and athletically in high school, more often than not, have had a strong track record for succeeding at the collegiate level.
By the resume that he’s built up at Goshen High School, a 35-minute drive from the Cincinnati metro area, Connor Holmes is well on his way to success at Shawnee State.
The senior, who was also a three-year letterman inside the school’s football program, will continue his career inside Bryan Sturgell’s bowling program and Phil Butler’s baseball program at SSU.
For Holmes, the opportunity to seal up his destination and commit to a bowling program on the rise is a special achievement for the soon-to-be SSU two-sport seeker.
“To me, it’s very exciting,” Holmes said. “I started my recruitment my freshman year, and I just feel relieved to end the process by joining two great programs and a great school. I can continue to do what I love most, which is competing. The fact that I can continue to compete in both baseball and bowling, however, makes it even sweeter.
Holmes — who has made massive strides in his bowling game over the past two seasons — finished fifth in the Southern Buckeye Academic-Athletic Conference (SBAAC) in his junior season in pins dropped with a 196.8 average over 35 games, and added in a series high of 461 while posting a game-high of 257.
In 2020, Holmes improved even further by dropping an average of 214.9 pins over 18 games — improving his mark by 18.1 pins in the process.
His game high of 258 and series high of 482 led to first-team all-SBAAC honors in his final season after earning second-team all-SBAAC accolades the season prior.
Along with his success as a bowler, Holmes was a steadying force for Goshen’s baseball program as a utility player.
In 2018 and 2019, he batted .333 and .338 respectively, all while helping the Warriors make a six-win jump between the two seasons — from 9-17 to 15-11.
Additionally, Holmes proved to be an outstanding fielder — primarily at the catching position.
In 127 defensive chances for Goshen in 2019, Holmes committed just three errors to rack up a stout .980 fielding percentage.
His strong play led to Honorable Mention all-SBAAC honors as a sophomore and second-team all-SBAAC accolades as a junior.
“Our coaches were tough, in a good way,” Holmes said. “A lot of people had their differences with them, but above all, they wanted us to succeed, which is why they pushed me and the rest of the team.”
If that wasn’t enough, Holmes even led Goshen’s football program in several categories as a quarterback to help the Warriors finish 6-4 in his final season playing as a junior in 2018 — ultimately posting team-highs in passing yardage, passing yards per attempt, touchdowns and completion percentage.
He’s balanced all of the above while earning academic honors in each semester of his high school career — with part of his high school schedule being filled by an AP and Honors class load to boot.
“It makes me proud to help Goshen compete,” Holmes said. “Goshen is one of those small, overlooked schools. To prove that Goshen can be a competitor in the league means a lot.”
At Shawnee State, Holmes believes he can accomplish similiar accolades.
With only two bowlers finishing their eligibility at SSU (Matt Ball and Brad Simpkins) and two seniors gone off the baseball team (Ben Sellers and Scott Walter) along with the addition of fellow incoming freshman Tyler Roberts to the bowling squad and a deep 2020 baseball class, the optimism for what both programs can accomplish going forward is certainly there.
“The campus and the City of Portsmouth felt like it was my home,” Holmes said. “I also got to see the bowling center (Sunset Lanes), and bowl alongside the team at one of the practices. It felt like a family.”
With his decision behind him, Holmes is looking forward to finding his niche at SSU — just as he has in multiple disciplines as a part of the Goshen Local School system.
“It was great,” Holmes said. “Sports gave us all something to come together for. At Shawnee State, I want to grow into my own person and find a program that suits me while helping me find my interests. I hope to fill my role and help both teams be as good as they can be, whether that means being the focus man or the man on the bench. I’m looking to do my part and bring some wins to SSU.”
Heck, it’s clear that Shawnee State’s already given him one gift — the ability to continue his baseball career after he thought it was over.
“Being able to continue my baseball career at Shawnee State means that I’m not done yet,” Holmes said. “It gave me a new perspective. Thanks to Shawnee State, I’m able to look forward to competing in college instead of thinking about how my senior year of high school would’ve gone.”
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