Remembering the Legend: Claude Holsclaw

Published 1:04 pm Thursday, August 24, 2023

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BY C.Y. Peters
Claude Holsclaw’s legacy in the Tennessee sports community was that of a true coaching legend, a man whose honor and dignity resonated through every aspect of his life. From his early days as a four-sport star at Elizabethton High School to his remarkable journey through various levels of athletics, Holsclaw’s unwavering commitment to excellence and values made him an inspirational figure for future generations.
Holsclaw’s athletic prowess was evident even during his high school years at Elizabethton High. He was not just a standout in one sport; he excelled in four different disciplines, demonstrating his versatility and dedication to the games he loved. His talent shone brightly on the football field as a skilled tailback and on the basketball court as a key player on the 1944 state championship runner-up team. These early achievements hinted at the greatness that would define his future endeavors.
As fate would have it, Holsclaw’s journey led him to the grand stage of the 1945 Rose Bowl, where he proudly represented the University of Tennessee as a freshman player. This was a testament to his skill and dedication, as not many athletes could boast such an accomplishment at such a young age. Later, during his time at Milligan College, Holsclaw etched his name into history by becoming the first athlete in the college’s annals to letter in four sports in a single year. His remarkable achievements extended to the baseball diamond, where he played for the Elizabethton Cubs in minor league baseball and semi-professional leagues in Virginia.
However, it was not just his prowess as an athlete that defined Claude Holsclaw. His coaching career exemplified his character and values. Throughout his journey, he managed teams in various locations, including Coeburn, Lebanon, and St. Paul, leaving an indelible mark on every community he touched. In 1959, he returned to Unaka High School, a place close to his heart, and began a new chapter as the head coach. His coaching tenure was marked by a remarkable record of 302 wins across multiple teams, including Elizabethton. Along with baseball, he led the Ranger football team for eight years.
What truly set Claude Holsclaw apart, though, was his genuine concern for the young men he coached. He understood that the impact of sports extended beyond the field, teaching valuable life lessons that would shape these athletes into responsible and honorable individuals. Holsclaw instilled a sense of pride not only in their performance but also in their community. He wasn’t just a coach; he was a mentor who led by example, emphasizing the importance of hard work, integrity, and selflessness.
His coaching philosophy was about more than winning games; it was about fostering character and building a legacy of excellence. Claude Holsclaw’s players learned to respect the game, their opponents, and themselves. His influence reached far beyond the confines of the sports arena, as his teachings echoed through the lives of those he touched.
In the end, Claude Holsclaw’s story was one of dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to shaping young lives through the power of sports. His legacy continues to inspire aspiring athletes and coaches alike, reminding us all that true success is not just measured by victories on the scoreboard, but by the impact we have on the lives of others.

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