MACON — Longtime North Hall assistant wrestling coach Pat Holcomb was recognized Saturday by the National Wrestling Coaches Association before the finals of the Traditional state tournament for his commitment to the sport.
Holcomb was given the NWCA Assistant Coach of the Year (2018) award for Georgia and Section 3 and for the Southeast Regional assistant Coach of the Year, which comprises eight southeastern states and thousands of coaches. Holcomb was handed the award by National Wrestling Hall of Famer and former North Hall coach Paul White.
White said Holcomb has been the Trojan's foundation.
"Pat has been a lifelong Trojan and has helped hold the program together through good and bad times. He's has been a mentor to many wrestlers over the years. I am proud to have been his coach," White said.
Holcomb graduated from North Hall in 1990, coached by White at the time, and came back to help the program as a lay coach in 2000 working with the youth program. He moved up to the high school level in 2010 and has been an integral part of North Hall's rise to one of the premier program's in the state, helping capture the 2018 Class 3A Duals state title and finishing second in the 2019 Duals, and taking second in 2018 and 2019 in the Traditional state tournaments.
Current North Hall coach David Nichols said Holcomb is more than just a coach to those who have worked with him.
"Pat's service to North Hall wrestling has been instrumental to our success. He is a great leader of young men, and you will not find a better assistant wrestling coach anywhere," Nichols said. "I am so happy that he is being recognized for his years of service to our sport. He is my right hand man and one of my best friends. I'm super happy for him."
For Holcomb, the award represents more than just himself.
"I really see this as more of a community award," he said. "The kids are listening to what we want them to do and buying in and the community support for what we are trying to build has been tremendous. This wouldn't have been possible without all of that.
"I'm flattered for sure. I never thought of getting recognized for something that I love doing."
However, despite wrestling and coaching in front of large crowds for years, and being a DeKalb County Fire Fighter, Holcomb said the 20-yard walk in front of a sold-out Macon Coliseum was one of the more nerve-wracking events of his life.
"Oh, I as definitely nervous. I was real worried about tripping and falling down. Just a huge crowd with a spotlight on me," he said. "All I was thinking was 'left-foot, right-foot, left-foot, right-foot' the whole way. Fortunately, I made it.
"But the coolest part was to have Coach White, my mentor, give me the award. One of the best moments of my life so far."