by: VERN UYETAKE - After 14 years as West Linn High's athletic director, Rob Holstrom is retiring.Rob Holstrom, West Linn's athletic director for the past 14 years, is moving on and returning to his roots in the process.

While it's not exactly a promotion, Holstrom recently received an offer that he couldn't turn down. His son Ryne, a standout football and basketball player for the Lions and later a lineman for Northern Arizona University, recently landed a job as a head basketball coach in Arizona, and he called his father to help round out his staff.

“How many opportunities do you get to have to go back to a smaller school and to coach with your son?” Holstrom said.

It didn't hurt that Ryne and his wife are also expecting their first child, which will be Rob's first grandchild.

Holstrom was a strong basketball player for North Eugene in high school, winning a state championship on a team that featured Danny Ainge.

“You wouldn't know it to look at me know, but I was skinny point guard on that team,” Holstrom said.

He would play college ball for Lane Community College, Mt. Hood Community College and Eastern Oregon University and later landed a head coaching job at Mapleton High.

He was also the head volleyball coach and an assistant on the football team while his wife coached the girls basketball team.

Holstrom always enjoyed being that involved with a small school. Mapleton had an enrollment of around 115 students at the time and more than 80 percent of them were involved in the Future Business Leaders of America club that Holstrom also ran.

Holstrom would later move on to St. Helens High, where he spent 14 years, seven of which were as the school's athletic director.

In 1999, Holstrom wasn't particularly looking for a new job but, while working a job fair for St. Helens at the Oregon Convention Center, he was stationed directly across from West Linn's booth.

“This power point slide kept coming up about how they had an opening for an athletic director. Most of our family was in the Portland area, and we wanted opportunities for our kids, so I thought I'd at least throw my name in the hat,” Holstrom said.

Holstrom got the job and began a long tenure with the Lions, overseeing plenty of success in athletics and large-scale changes to the school's facilities.

West Linn's building underwent a near total remodel, featuring a retooled main gym and the addition of an auxiliary gym. The football and baseball fields also made the shift from grass to turf, and a turf softball field was also built at Rosemont Ridge Middle School.

“We've gone through two bonds since I've been here, and so upgrading the facilities was a big undertaking,” Holstrom said.

On the field and the court, West Linn thrived in multiple sports. The volleyball, boys basketball, boys and girls lacrosse, girls golf and boys tennis teams all won state titles while individuals won state championships in swimming, wrestling and track and field.

And while those titles were obviously special, Holstrom had a soft spot in his heart for those teams who overachieved and caught fire at the right time.

Perhaps no moment encapsulated that than the 2012 girls basketball team. After years of fielding a consistent and competitive program that was never quite able to catch a break and make the quarterfinals,

in 2012 the Lions put together another strong campaign and topped Crater on the road to earn a trip to the Rose Garden.

There, West Linn drew powerhouse Oregon City in its first game, a team the Lions hadn't beaten since the mid-1980s.

In the first game of the tournament, West Linn held its own with the Pioneers but, trailing by double digits with one quarter left, it appeared that the Lions were destined to make an expected appearance in the consolation bracket.

However, West Linn didn't back away from the top-seeded Pioneers and whittled the lead in the final period, eventually taking the lead with less than two minutes to play and rolling to a stunning upset while Oregon City folded.

“During those last three minutes, I called my daughter and I just didn't hang up the phone. That was probably the most magical moment,” Holstrom said.

Holstrom has strived to create an atmosphere with strong foundations for all sports. He also understood the importance of extracurricular activities in the lives of students.

“I feel like athletics and activities are the lifeblood of a school. The rigors of the school day are obviously very important, but that other half of the day is also important, and that's where I spend 75-80 percent of my time. I wanted to give kids great opportunities to excel,” Holstrom said.

Of the long hours, which saw Holstrom patrolling the sidelines three to four times a week at a variety of activities, not to mention Saturdays during the postseason or for tournaments, he says: “I wouldn't trade it for anything.”

In this tenure, Holstrom also got to see his daughter Ashley play basketball and softball for the Lions and his son play football and basketball.

“Not many people can say they got paid to watch their kids play,” Holstrom said.

Holstrom will continue to be involved at West Linn before his official move to Arizona in the fall. He will help incoming athletic director Kevin Mills make the transition and will assist in the hiring of a handful of coaching vacancies.

Then it will be off to Arizona.

“I'm looking forward to being able to play golf in a polo shirt in the winter,” Holstrom said.

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