Eleven years ago, Ole Miss set out to build a soccer program and entrusted its creation to a 26-year-old coach, just a year removed from graduate school. In the decade that has passed, Steve Holeman has built Ole Miss into a legitimate force on the national scene and established himself as one of the sport's top young minds.
Claiming two Southeastern Conference Western Division titles and a pair of NCAA Tournament berths, the Holeman-led Rebels have recorded eight seasons with a .500 or better record and eight straight SEC Tournament appearances -- the only West team to do so.
Holeman's program took its biggest step toward national prominence in 2003. Ole Miss earned its second straight NCAA Tournament berth and notched the team's first tourney victory in the opening round, shutting out Texas 1-0. Holeman's Rebels followed up that momentous win with a near-upset of No. 7 Florida on the Gators' homefield. Ole Miss came up just short of a Sweet 16 berth, falling 4-3 in double-overtime. The Rebels cracked the national rankings for the first time that year, spending five weeks in the top 25 and rising as high as No. 21. With a 15-6-2 mark, Ole Miss recorded its most single-season victories and finished top four in the SEC overall for the second straight year.
Holeman also reached a personal milestone in 2003 as the Rebel mentor earned his 100th career coaching victory. With the NCAA triumph over Texas, he also arrived at the century mark in wins at Ole Miss. Holeman ranks third all-time in the SEC in coaching victories, and his 11 years of coaching in the conference is second only to Warren Lipka's 14 seasons at Kentucky.
In the Rebels' rise to prominence, Holeman placed an NCAA Tournament bid as his squad's first major obstacle. The 2002 campaign provided that joyous accomplishment, as the Rebels became the first Division I team from the state of Mississippi to earn an NCAA berth. Its debut in "The Big Dance" capped a year of firsts for Holeman's club. Ole Miss finished top three in the SEC overall standings for the first time and registered its best single-season winning percentage with a 13-5-2 record (.700).
The 1999 and 2000 seasons saw Ole Miss rule the West. In 2000, Holeman's Rebels posted a winning conference record for the first time and finished with their highest regular-season win total to date with 13. In 1999, Holeman guided the Rebels to their first-ever SEC Western Division championship, while advancing to the finals of the SEC Tournament for the first time.
Academically, Ole Miss has been among the nation's elite under Holeman. The Rebels have received the NSCAA Team Academic Award each of the past four years, and last season, ranked among the top 50 of the 291 women's programs to earn the distinction with a 3.42 team GPA. The 2004 season also saw Lindley Beckman become a two-time First Team Academic All-American in addition to becoming Holeman's second player to receive an SEC Post-Graduate Award. In 2003, Ole Miss had three players distinguished nationally for academics and was one of only three women's soccer teams in the nation to have two Academic All-Americans.
Holeman, who was hired on Dec. 15, 1994, came to Oxford with the challenge of constructing a second program from scratch in his young coaching career. The previous year in 1993, Holeman had put together the first-ever women's soccer program at Auburn University, building the program from scratch in only six weeks. Holeman served as the interim coach that season and his Tigers posted a winning record at 7-6-3 in their inaugural campaign.
Holeman, who holds a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) "A" coaching license, began his coaching career while still a student-athlete at Wake Forest University.
In 1991, Holeman guided the Huntsville (Ala.) under-17 boys select team to the Alabama state championship. From 1992-94, Holeman served as coach of the Auburn men's club team.
At the same time he was beginning his coaching career, Holeman also played soccer at Wake Forest University. Holeman, who was a four-year letterwinner at midfield, helped lead the Demon Deacons to the NCAA Tournament in 1988, 1989 and 1990.
In 1989, he was a member of the Wake Forest team that clinched the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round. During that 1989 season, Wake Forest was ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation.
Holeman graduated from Wake Forest in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in Health and Sports Science. In 1993, Holeman received his master's degree in Exercise Physiology from Auburn, maintaining a 4.0 GPA throughout his graduate studies.
Holeman has also successfully completed coursework toward a doctorate degree in Exercise Physiology.
Holeman played professional soccer as a member of the Montgomery Capitals, a semi-pro team based in Montgomery, Ala., in 1993 and 1994. Holeman also played on the Alabama Men's All-Star Indoor Team in 1992.
In addition to his Ole Miss duties over the past seven years, Holeman has been a staff member at the Region III Olympic Development Program (ODP). He is currently assistant state director for Mississippi ODP and head coach of the '88 squad.
Holeman was head coach of the South Region team at the U.S. Soccer Festival in 2001-02, and guided them to a gold medal finish at the 2001 event in Chicago.
His knowledge and respect throughout college soccer recently earned him the position of chairman for the NCAA men's and women's soccer rules committee.
A native of West Long Branch, N.J., Holeman was born Dec. 21, 1967, and married the former Julie Newton of Goodman, Miss., June 22, 2002. The couple welcomed their first child, Anna Mae Holeman on Dec. 1, 2004.
The Holeman File
Holeman's Career Record
Year School Overall Pct. SEC Pct. 1993Auburn 7-6-3 .531 0-2 .000 1995Ole Miss 6-12 .333 0-8 .000 1996Ole Miss 9-9-1 .500 1-7 .125 1997Ole Miss 11-9 .550 4-4 .500 1998Ole Miss 9-7-2 .556 3-5 .375 1999Ole Miss 14-9 .609 4-5 .444 2000Ole Miss 13-6-1 .675 5-3-1 .611 2001Ole Miss 10-10-1 .500 4-5 .444 2002Ole Miss 13-5-2 .700 5-3-1 .611 2003Ole Miss 15-6-2 .696 4-3-2 .556 2004Ole Miss 9-10-2 .476 4-5-2 .455
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