NHS football to honor memory of Ian Holmes
Six months ago, the Newberg youth sports community lost one of its pillars.
Ian Holmes, 44, died unexpectedly on March 21 due to complications from pneumonia, leaving behind a legacy of mentorship and leadership with Newberg youth football.
Holmes coached the eighth-grade team and was the president of the Newberg Youth Football program at the time of his passing. He was also the loving father of a 2-year-old and three teenage stepsons, who he helped raise alongside his wife, Rachael. The two were a dynamic duo in parenting and in coaching – Rachael served as one of the main organizers for the youth program and assisted her husband with wrangling volunteers, raising money and other endeavors.
"Coaching was his passion," Amy Pothier, a close family friend, said of Holmes. "Kids, coaching and being that role model was extremely important to him and he was really good at it. Rachael was the supporting factor in all of that."
Five days after her husband's death, Rachael's father died after fighting cancer for a number of years. Her brother has since been diagnosed with cancer as well – adding to the list of challenges the Holmes family has faced in 2019.
Those challenges weren't limited to this year, either. Holmes's now 2-year-old son – Chase – was born premature at 26 weeks and spent the first three months of life in a neonatal intensive care unit. He was called a "miracle" by Pothier and is "happy and healthy" now, she said.
The youth and high school sports community in Newberg has tried to emulate the sense of optimism exhibited by Rachael and her kids, according to Pothier. Through it all, community members have seen Rachael and the four boys keep their heads up in the face of adversity.
"I just feel like their family has been going through so much tragedy and stayed positive and tried to look toward God for strength," Diana Takahashi, who has helped organize a memorial fund for Holmes, said. "They have remained really rooted in the community and Rachael still helps out with Newberg youth football even though Ian has passed. Everybody that worked with Ian loved his attitude and you can see that reflected in his family."
After Holmes passed away, the community held a celebration of life in the Newberg High School gymnasium on April 27. The youth football program is honoring Holmes this season with an "IH" helmet decal and "Holmes Strong" undershirt for players as well as matching visors – Holmes's signature look – for all the youth coaches.
Half a year after Holmes' death the community is still giving back to his family, whose impact can be felt at all levels of the football program and beyond, according to friends and associates.
Eighth grade students that would have played for Holmes this season will join seventh grade players in attending the Newberg High School varsity squad's team dinner this Friday. There will be fundraising conducted on behalf of Holmes at the dinner.
Takahashi said a memorial fund has been established in Holmes's name along with an annual college scholarship for a Newberg football player.
After the dinner-fundraiser, youth players will put on their jerseys and gain free admittance to the varsity football game at 7 p.m. against Summit. Organizers plan to raise money for the memorial and scholarships funds through a 50/50 raffle and by passing around a donation bucket, Takahashi said.
At halftime, NHS vice principal Mark Brown and Chehalem Park & Recreation District supervisor Julie Petersen – who knew the coach well and spoke at Holmes's memorial service – will speak about the late coach's impact on the community.
They will be joined by Holmes's family, who will be given a chance to look around and absorb the impact the mentor, husband and father had on countless football players and families in Newberg.
"His passing has been a huge loss to his family and the community," Pothier said. "Their family is just the kindest, most giving people who would give you the shirt off their backs. They have raised their boys that way and it shows.
"Life goes on – you just have to pick up the pieces. Rachael has done that and she has a great support system in this community."
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