This season, the Truman State University football team welcomes back former head coach and Truman hall-of-famer Eric Holm.
Holm has been part of the Bulldog football program since 1976 when he was a wide receiver for the team. As a member of the team, Holm received first-team all-conference honors in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association in 1980, and was an honorable mention in 1979. After his playing days ended, Holm joined the team as a graduate assistant in 1981, and later accepted an assistant position in 1984. In 1989, Holm accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University, where he spent one season before returning to Kirksville to take control of the Truman football program. Holm led the Bulldog program from 1990-1994. In his five seasons at the helm, the football program made three National Collegiate Athletic Association playoff appearances and posted a record of 37-19, leaving Holm as the fifth winningest coach in program history.
Prior to Holm accepting his new role as assistant coach with the Bulldogs, he retired earlier in 2019 from his position as athletic director for Truman High School in Independence, Missouri. A few years before his retirement, his former teammate and coaching partner Gregg Nesbitt, Truman State University’s current head coach, discussed a return to coaching for Holm. Holm knew in his gut that he wanted to return to the coaching staff for the ’Dogs after attending a football game a couple years ago.
“I had come to a game and I got that feeling,” Holm said. “I don’t even know what it is, you know? I was standing there over on the sidelines watching and I’m like, ‘Gosh, I think I’d like to be back in this atmosphere some time if I had the chance.’”
Now that Holm is finally back on the sidelines he is doing all he can to help the team succeed. Holm is no longer calling the plays on the offensive side of the ball, but he has found other ways to make an impact on his players.
“He adds an element of energy and fun to the team,” Defensive back Griffin Becker said. “He’s a light-hearted guy who fits in well with our guys. He even does the entire pre-practice warm-up with the team.”
Even with his years of success as a coach at the college level, Holm believes the 2019 Truman football team has something no other team he has been a part of has possessed.
“It’s the culture that exists around the football program and that’s a credit to the coaches … You know good culture,” Holm said. “You know things are good when you see it, and just the way the kids act and treat each other, and treat the coaches, and everybody within the program, it’s one of the best cultures I’ve ever seen.”
Holm said he believes this season’s team can be as good as they push themselves to be. He said he thinks that a good mix of talent and experience at important positions will help the Bulldogs be successful, but ultimately how far they go will depend on how much they believe they can accomplish.
“It’s one of those intangibles, you know, believing that you can do it,” Holm said. “Somebody gets to do this, somebody gets to win. I think it’s more about belief and wanting to get it done.”
Moving forward, Holm is unsure if he will be returning to Truman after this season, but has enjoyed his short time in Kirksville enough that he and his wife have seriously considered living in Kirksville full-time.
“Some people say they have a second home, but in a lot of ways this feels more like home than my home does,” Holm said about moving back to Kirksville.
Whether Holm continues his tenure past the 2019 season or not, his impact on this year’s team has been felt in the locker room and on the field before a snap has even been played.