MMA’s Holt takes serious approach to leadership role

By Jeff Nations

WOODSTOCK — Massanutten Military Academy’s Joshua Holt isn’t one to take his responsibilities lightly, especially not this season.

Holt is a tri-captain for the Colonels this season, along with fellow senior Weiouqing Chen and rising sophomore Tyler Draddy.

To Holt, that’s serious business.

“I take it very seriously,” Holt said. “I take pride in it. As the leader of the team, I want everybody to look good and put out a good name for Massanutten this year.”

Holt, who will start both ways as MMA’s top running back and strong safety, wants to help the Colonels rebound from last season’s winless campaign. It was the first year in Woodstock for the Syracuse, New York resident, and Holt wants to make sure this second stint at MMA provides a few more positive memories on the football field.

The 5-foot-8, 140-pounder won’t be shy about making sure his teammates are in the proper frame of mind to get it done on the football field.

“My role for this team is to be the main leader, the guy that’s going to lead this team in my senior year,” Holt said. “I’m probably never going to leave the field, so it’s my job to keep these guys staying with high energy and ready to play when the season starts. That needs to go on every Friday, every Saturday, every game we play.”

Holt is the ideal cadet-athlete at MMA, a student with a real interest in pursuing a career in the military who soaks up the military aspects of the curriculum. Holt hopes to attend the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York following his graduation from MMA, but even if he doesn’t secure that appointment he’s still determined to serve in the Army. He’s also looking at the ROTC program at SUNY-Brockport.

“Good kid in the classroom, good leader upstairs, does well on the football field, he’s aggressive, takes coaching well, mild-mannered,” MMA coach Chris Gilliland said.

Gilliland has pegged Holt to take over the varied roles filled by Houston Walls, a four-year starter who graduated in the spring.

“He’s a combo guy,” Gilliland said. “If an emergency were to pop up, he’d have to go to quarterback as well. He’s a guy I can pretty much put everywhere offensively on the field. I mean, I could probably even put him on the line if I had to. He’s not very big, but he’s tough.

“He’ll get some carries, he’ll get some passes out of the backfield. He’ll be all over the place.”

That sounds just fine to Holt, who’s looking forward to playing a major part in what he hopes will be a real turnaround season for MMA.

“I think everybody’s pretty enthusiastic,” Holt said. “Our coaches didn’t forget about last year. I haven’t forgotten about last year. We didn’t win a single game. For my senior year, I want to make sure it’s special. I want to make sure that we come out here with the right attitude and win some games. We need to basically build it up for next season, and the seasons after that. You never know — football might be big here, and you never know when you can start it.”

Holt would love to be a part of that foundation for future success, but there’s one thing he absolutely must do for the Colonels to have a strong chance at putting a few wins on the scoreboard this season.

“He can’t get hurt — I already told him, ‘You can’t get hurt,'” Gilliland said. “He’ll be out there as much as we can use him. It will be difficult for me to take him off the field to get him a breather, but we’ll find a way to do it.”

Contact staff writer Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or

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Jeff Nations