Conyers native DeVon Holmes, a multi-sport coach at The Cindy Platt Boys and Girls Club of Transylvania County (N.C.), has won Positive Coaching Alliance’s coveted National Double-Goal Coach Award presented for his positive impact on youth sports.
Holmes is one of 25 national winners of the Double-Goal Coach Award, named for coaches who strive to win while also pursuing the more important goal of teaching life lessons through sports. Nearly 700 coaches were nominated across the U.S. The award includes a $1,000 prize and recognition within the website, newsletters and media campaigns of Positive Coaching Alliance, a national non-profit with a mission of developing better athletes and better people through character-building workshops for parents, coaches, athletes and administrators in youth and high school sports.
“Coach Holmes helps athletes win in and out of sports,” said Chris Moore, CEO of Positive Coaching Alliance. “By creating a positive, character-building youth sports experience and serving as a Double-Goal Coach, DeVon helps youth develop into better athletes and better people.”
Holmes, a Heritage High grad, came to The Boys and Girls Club as a senior at Brevard College (N.C.) after his football career came to an end. He was looking for ways to occupy the time he suddenly had available after four years of a non-stop sports schedule. He didn’t expect it to turn into a career, but several years later and he is not only coaching several sports at the club, but he is working to enlarge the program which was non-existent when he arrived.
In 2014, the Boys and Girls Club started a trial program with baseball and slowly added more sports including soccer, tennis, flag football, volleyball and rugby.
“My vision wasn’t to create a sports program starting off, but then I saw kids latching onto it, I realized we had something,” Holmes said.
The club uses a program it calls Triple Play, where kids are introduced to many different sports so they can find one that interests them.
Holmes, also the administrator of a national mentoring program at the club and a mentor himself, is described by colleagues as calm, quiet and a man of few words.
“The great thing about this is that when he does speak, every member in the room makes sure that they are listening with intent ears,” said Jamie Atkinson, Holmes’ supervisor at the club. “This also means that DeVon chooses his words very carefully, as he believes that no spoken word should ever be wasted.”
PCA strives to find Double-Goal Coaching award-winners who fill players’ emotional tanks, allow mistakes as part of the learning process and honor the game. Atkinson described how he expects mistakes during practices encouraging kids to try new things, especially plays that might scare them or be intimidating. When there is an error made, Holmes never yells or belittles a player, instead, he takes the time to talk quietly to the player one-on-one and encourage him with the positives before assisting with the item needing improvement.
Holmes also makes it a priority to respect the game even when the other team isn’t doing the same, Atkinson said. In one game. where the other team was yelling at the refs, using foul language and parents were getting involved with negative commentary, Holmes used it as a teaching moment for his team. He encouraged his players to shake the other teams’ hands after the game and then took his team aside to address what had happened and why they would never behave this way. He reminded them of the standards in place at the club and how they would handle conflict with integrity and class.
“(Holmes) believes that in order to be successful one must work hard, persevere in the face of challenges, and never stop learning,” another co-worker said. “DeVon expects a lot of his athletes and is always giving back in return. When new athletic opportunities are presented, he always thinks about how this can best help the members and what they can get from the experience. He never considers how much work he will be taking on as a result.”