Sydney Holden was the key piece to the Wheelersburg Lady Pirate’s successful season. She averaged 16.7 points per game, 8.8 rebounds, and willed her team to the district championship game as well as a share of the SOC title. She will now be taking her talents to Rio Grande to play basketball at the collegiate level.
“I signed just this past Monday,” said Holden. “It’s a blessing to be able to take my love for the game to the next level.”
Holden took a look at several other programs: Eastern Illinois, Otterbein University, and Northern Kentucky University. She chose the Rio Grande Red storm because of their recruiting tenacity. Head Coach David Smalley had been recruiting Holden since seventh grade, a fact that was not lost on Sydney.
Another bonus for Holden is that Rio Grande is close to home. The University is only a 50 minute drive from Wheelersburg.
“That’s a big aspect, too. My family now gets to come watch me. My parents love the fact that I chose to stay close to home. They have inspired me a lot. My grandfather was not pleased that I was considering Eastern Illinois, he really wanted me to stay close to home. Many of my good, true friends are staying close, too.
“I’ve had three friends that have really been there for me: Brook Conley, Lauren Smith, and Kyle Jenkins. They were there with signs when I scored my 1,000th point and are very important to me. I’m glad they will get to see me play.”
Holden could play either the point or more of a wing role for the Red Storm. Whichever role she fits into she wants to bring her signature energy and hustle.
“I didn’t want to go to a bigger school because I want to play. I hope I can bring some energy and a competitive edge. They told me when I signed that it won’t be some of the smaller programs I’m used to facing in high school, everyone we face will be true basketball players.”
Holden and the Pirates were familiar with facing true basketball players, though, as they share a rivalry with the South Webster Lady Jeeps and another fantastic player in Kacie Hall. Hall will also go on to play collegiate basketball.
“We’ve had this kind of rivalry since my freshmen year. And even going beyond that, going back to fourth and fifth grade and biddy ball. I think we’ve each pushed each other to be better. Even though Kacie and I graduate I hope it’s a rivalry that continues.”
Sydney looks to Pirate’s Coach Dusty Spradlin as a major influence on her life and basketball career.
“Spradlin and Coach Brown without a doubt have changed my life. I always say that a good coach can change the game for you, but a great coach can change your life. They’ve done that in every way. They’ve done everything they can possibly do to help me along the way. “
Holden will certainly leave behind a legacy at Wheelersburg. Not only because of her excellent play, but also because her little brother, freshman Tanner Holden, is one of the up and coming players on the boys team. Sydney hopes to set an example for her brother.
“I just want him to know he has the potential to be great. We tell him that all the time but I’m not sure if he recognizes that. I think he’s starting to realize he has to do more than shooting drills, he has to get in the gym and work for it.”
Look for Sydney to make more headlines next season, as her and the Rio Grande Women’s Basketball Team compete in the KIAC conference.