Cam Holding steps down as head coach

by Jess Todd

Leading up to the 2017-2018 season, the National Lacrosse League announced plans for expansion. In August and November respectively, the San Diego Seals and Philadelphia Wings were made official to start in the 2018-2019 season. At the time, nobody in the Michigan State lacrosse organization knew it would affect their future.

On July 16, the NLL Expansion Draft took place. In the fourth round, the San Diego Seals selected a defenseman from the Colorado Mammoth: Cam Holding.

“I am extremely excited to be going back to play again,” said Holding. “I have been playing lacrosse since the age of three and last year was the first year I did not play competitive lacrosse because of my injury. I am excited to start with a new expansion team and help build that into a successful team.”

Almost exactly two months prior, Holding and the Michigan State men’s lacrosse team were celebrating a win after the last Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association game of the year. In just three years, Holding took the Spartans from the worst loss in MCLA tournament history to national champions (both against the same team).

However, with a team on the west coast gaining his player rights, his coaching future has been put on hold.

“I have decided to go back and give all of my efforts into training and playing while I still have a few youthful years left in me,” said Holding.

“A couple years ago I was able to play, coach and run my own business, but now with a house, a wife, and a job and playing (so far away from Michigan State), I am unable to continue coaching. I think the team has created a culture that will never change and the players involved in the MSU lacrosse program will continue upholding that culture and standard that has been put in place over the last three years.”

In his time at the helm of the Spartans’ program, Holding amassed a record of 38-11 including a national championship and three CCLA championships. He also helped guide 20 All-Americans including MCLA player of the year Kevin Boland and the leading scorer in Michigan State lacrosse history Charlie Pistner.

“As a team we really appreciated all the time and effort that Cam gave us given his own life and career as well as the fact that club lacrosse isn’t the most lucrative job,” said Pistner. “You can tell he truly loves and cares about the game of lacrosse and wants to pass that along to others. It was great to win a national championship together and I speak for the team saying that we wish him the best of luck in San Diego.”

Despite all of the accolades, Holding says it was the individuals surrounding Michigan State lacrosse that made his time so special.

“Leaving this year was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make,” said Holding. “The players are what make the program. We have a very talented group of players and an ever better group of people. It is such a great group to be around and that makes coaching that much more fun.”

“Our parents and supporters were incredible and played a huge factor to our teams success as well. Road games, home games, practices, golf outings, etc. People were always amazing and made this program what it is.”

Holding said he will hold the memory of the run to the national championship closest. It was a very special week for him as he believes that that was the moment that truly changed the culture for the Michigan State lacrosse program; a goal for Holding since he started. Leaving MSU behind, he had a few parting words for his players:

“There are a lot of things that we had covered these last three years and I think that the guys understand what it takes to get the job done. Control the things you can control:

  • Communication - On the field always communicate.
  • Attitude - Practice or game, have a great attitude and be a great teammate. Be coachable.
  • Body language - Stay positive at all times and focus on the next play
  • Have fun - We play this game because it is fun. Have fun at practice, have fun when you play. Enjoy playing this great game every chance you get.
  • Don’t give them a reason - Returners know what I mean here. Constantly do things that will put your team first and give you a better shot to win.
  • WORK ETHIC - Successful teams are built off this. It is the reason why our team was successful this year. We outworked opponents in the weight room, at practice, with game prep and all over the field. Let a strong work ethic be the thing that defines Michigan State lacrosse!”

Assistant coach from the 2018 national championship team DJ Lubs will take over the head-coaching position starting in September. Although he is leaving, Michigan State will always be close to mind for Cam Holding.

 “There is a very special bond with this group of players and that sense of brotherhood is what really elevates a team,” said Holding. “This is going to be a dangerous group for years to come. I will be following this team and program very closely and cannot wait to see what this group can do in the future!”

– Jess Todd