OWASSO, Oklahoma — For anyone who knows him, Steve Holleman is not a man comfortable with touting his own accomplishments.
So, when it was announced recently the longtime Owasso baseball coach had been named the 2019 American Baseball Coaches Association National Assistant Coach of the Year for the high school division, Holleman chose to deflect the praise to those around him.
Holleman played collegiately at Panola Jr. College in the early 1970s.
“It’s a great honor,” said Holleman, who has spent the last 40 years as a staple in both the Owasso athletic program and community. “But I look at it this way. Longevity and great players give me awards like this...It’s more than just my award. It’s the players. It’s the assistant coaches that I’ve coached with. It’s being able to be with (head) coach (Larry) Turner all these years.”
Holleman and Turner have teamed up to spearhead one of the most successful baseball dynasties ever at the high school level. Holleman has been part of 1,147 wins and 11 state championship teams. His impressive list of accomplishments include being named All-State Coach, the Oklahoma Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Owasso Athletic Hall of Fame.
“(Being in Owasso) ended up being the perfect storm for me,” said the Dallas native who began coaching football and basketball at the junior high level when he joined Owasso Public Schools prior to the 1979-80 school year. “The Lord put me in the right place and put the right people around me all these years.”
Holleman will officially receive the award Jan. 3, 2020, during the ABCA Coaches Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.
Turner nominated his former college teammate and roommate for the award.
“I thought it would be hard pressed for a lot of people to have the credentials he does,” Turner said. “I’m just really happy for him and proud of him. It’s well-deserved with his relationship with the kids and the community. He’s a high character guy. He’s a shining light for the city of Owasso and the school district.”
Holleman’s wife, Betty, was actually the first of the two to be hired on by OPS. She taught in the district until retiring three years ago.
“I was genuinely excited for him,” Betty said. “He was very deserving. He’s worked hard at it. I was very proud of him. It’s a wonderful honor.”
Along with those involved in the Owasso program, both past and present, the Dallas native thanked family members, teammates and former coaches, among others. Holleman shared how each person made a significant impact on him.
“This award is about more than just me,” he said. “I’m really appreciative of this award. But it’s not a Steve Holleman award.”
Since the announcement of the award began to circulate on social media, congratulatory messages, texts and phone calls have flooded in.
“I’ve been blown away at the people who have reached out,” Holleman said. “It’s been humbling.”
Holleman played baseball at Panola Junior College in 1973-74 where he was an All-Texas Eastern performer under legendary coach Bill Griffin.
He is married to the former Susan Gray. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Gray of Clayton.