Published Jun. 16, 2014
By Jeff Morrow, Tri-City Herald
Cheryl Holden was the winningest coach in Columbia Basin College basketball history.
In her 13 seasons, Holden’s teams won 70 percent of their games, compiling a record of 267-117.
But she paid a price for that record with her health.
So on Mon-day, the school announced that Holden is retiring after 13 seasons at the helm of the Hawk women’s program.
“I need to step back and slow down, put my needs first and my health first,” Holden said. “I’m not getting any younger.”
Holden, 54, said it’s nothing serious, just a bunch of little things that have added up.
“My blood pressure goes up. I have migraines during the season,” she said. “Two seasons ago, I ended up in the hospital in Salem.”
Holden had already signed a new crop of incoming freshmen and helped a number of her standouts from this past season sign with four-year schools to play basketball.
But her health has always been in the back of her mind.
“I’ve been thinking about (retiring) for a while,” Holden said. “I thought I could make it through another season.”
But she realized it was time. Holden will remain at CBC in her current position as Director of Running Start and Student Records.
“Doctors say stress can make you sick,” she said. “I think (winning) has (taken its toll). Burning oil at both ends catches up to you. I think at this level, as this fall I was given more responsibilities. I have a lot more into my job at CBC. I think things were kind of catching up to me.”
Holden leaves some big shoes to fill at CBC.
She coached the Hawks to four NWAACC championships, two in the last three years.
She was hired in 2001 after a successful stint as head coach at West Valley High School of Yakima, where her teams compiled a record of 117-21 and won a state championship.
Her first championship came in 2005, when the Hawks finished 26-6. Another title and a then-record 28-win season followed in 2008.
The record stood until 2012 when the Hawks posted a 29-2 mark and won another NWAACC championship.
But perhaps the best team in CBC and NWAACC history came in Holden's final season this past spring, when the Hawks rolled to another championship with a 27-4 record.
Holden was named NWAACC coach of the year four times, and East Region Coach of the Year five times.
Her assistant, Daron Santo, will take over as head coach.
Santo has been Holden’s assistant coach for the past four seasons.
Prior to that, he was the head coach at Prosser High School for nine seasons.
Santo took a Mustang program that had a 3-18 record prior to his arrival and led them to two state tournaments, placing seventh in 2007 and third in 2008.
Holden said that Santo has been a huge part of the program those four seasons, and has taken more of the workload on each season.
And Santo will still have Holden there to answer any questions he has.
“It’s gonna work out OK,” Holden said. “I’m gonna be around. I’m gonna be there for Daron. I’m not leaving CBC. I love CBC.”
Holden has coached and taught for 31 years at some level, helping student-athletes improve themselves on the court and in the classroom.
Now it’s time to take care of herself.
“I don’t know what my journey is going to be,” she said. “I just decided I need to take care of myself. My 13 years at CBC has been absolutely amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better place to work.”
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