Will Holland ’21 is the athlete of the issue, and for good reason. A leader on and off the ice, Holland has been a boy’s varsity hockey player since freshman year. Along with Tyler Mudd ’21, Holland was elected as a captain for this season–a role he is certainly deserving of.
Holland’s older brother Michael Holland ’19 was also one of the team’s captains in his senior year, helping lead Deerfield to the playoffs in the Class of 1993 Ice Rink’s inaugural season. Though the Holland brothers play different positions–Will a defensemen and Michael a forward– they played together for two seasons.
When asked about his older brother’s impact on the team, Holland said, “He was a big part of the team my freshman and sophomore year, and he laid the foundation for what kind of leader I should be in my junior and senior years.”
Over that span of time, from Holland’s first season with the team to this one, he says the team’s culture has improved. “I’ve been fortunate enough to see the culture of Deerfield hockey evolve into something that celebrates success and doing the little things right,” he said. Holland feels that, regarding overall work ethic and the way the team “approaches the game and each other,” he will be leaving the program in a good place next year.
Commenting on the shortened season due to COVID-19 Holland said, “It’s hard not to feel like I have some unfinished business.” While playing his final Deerfield hockey games in a far-from-ideal season will be tough, Holland’s future looks bright and he certainly has more work cut out for him going forward. Holland plans to play junior hockey in Canada or the U.S. for the next year or two, with the ultimate goal of playing either D3 or, hopefully, D1 college hockey. The junior hockey to college pathway is one that a number of former Deerfield players have taken, including Holland’s older brother who now plays at Miami University (Ohio).
Hockey Coach and Philosophy & Religious Studies Teacher Jan Flaska said about Holland’s future that “the process doesn’t end once he graduates.” Mr. Flaska had a lot of good things to say about what he has seen so far from Holland as a player.
One of the first things that comes to mind when Mr. Flaska thinks of Holland is his focus. “He’s laser-focused when he plays but also when he practices. It’s almost like you have to interrupt him–in a good way–to coach him,” Mr. Flaska said.
Mr. Flaska also mentioned that Holland has “a record of being committed to self-improvement,” something that will continue to serve him well. Mr. Flaska stressed that “it is truly such an honor to be elected as a captain, and Holland is a very good one.” One of the things that make Holland a great captain is that “no situation is too big for him.”
One of Mr. Flaska’s best memories of Holland is from the team’s preseason trip to the Czech Republic before the 2019-20 season. Late in the team’s final game of four, the score was a tight 1-1, and Holland “took a hard fall and was really hobbled.” He couldn’t finish the game, but Mr. Flaska remembers him and is still impressed by the way he “supported the team in a huge way” from the bench. Holland’s ability to lift up the team even when he’s not on the ice is a quality of a captain that he’s embodied.
This season’s short stint of games haven’t ended yet, but Holland’s time with Deerfield hockey is coming to an end. Holland has been a huge part of the team for almost four years now, and the Holland legacy will likely live on within the Deerfield hockey program for years to come. We wish him the best of luck in the rest of his hockey career and thank him for all he’s brought to this school, on and off the ice.