Finding More than a Silver Lining

July 21, 2010

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - All these years later, Katie Holloway doesn't know where she would be without sitting volleyball. And frankly, neither does Team USA.

Holloway, a standout for the Cal State Northridge women's basketball team from 2004-08, took her talents from the basketball to volleyball and hasn't looked back. Since graduating from CSUN, Holloway has established herself as one of the best players in the world. And in the process, she has discovered a new perspective on what she wants to do with her life.

Born without a bone in her right leg and an amputee within 20 months of birth, Holloway has never allowed the disability to slow her down. She earned All-Big West Second Team honors for her work during the 2007-08 season, when she averaged a team and career-high 14.5 points and 7.2 rebounds. Holloway ended her career at CSUN ranked second in all-time field goals and in all-time field goal percentage.

Following her time in the San Fernando Valley, Holloway moved to Edmond, Okla., home of USA Volleyball. With the move came a new lifestyle for the Lake Stevens, Wash., native. Once shy and apprehensive about discussing her story with others, Holloway was thrust into the spotlight and joined a group of women who shared similar experiences. She has not looked back since.

"It's amazing to think about where I've come from since I started with Team USA and sitting volleyball," Holloway reflected. "I truly believe I would not be here were it not for the experiences and what I learned while at CSUN. These last few years have really allowed my future to come into focus and I think that is in large part to my experiences at Cal State Northridge."

Because of her size and natural athletic ability, Holloway quickly became a force for the Americans in competition. She went on to earn a silver medal at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing. Holloway has also helped Team USA win the 2010 Parapan American Championship, the 2010 World Organization for Volleyball Disabled World Cup, the 2009 Parapan American Zonal Championship and the 2009 Eurocup.

More recently, Holloway was a top performer at the 2010 World Championships, where the USA placed as the silver medalists, its highest finish ever. After finishing a perfect 5-0 through pool play, Holloway and the Americans dispatched the Russians in the quarterfinals and the Dutch in the semifinals. That set up a meeting with the only other undefeated team in the competition, the Chinese.

Despite a valiant effort, Team USA fell behind in all three sets and left with a silver medal in front of the home crowd at the University of Central Oklahoma. In the championship match, Holloway scored eight points on seven kills and one ace. Although the result was frustrating, it also served as a source of motivation to Holloway for future meetings with their rivals.

"Although we lost, I feel like we showed a new level of potential that we can reach," Holloway said. "We know we are not that far off from reaching a new level and the match served as a report card to show us where we can get better.

From her middle blocker position, Holloway had several standout performances for the third-ranked Americans. She recorded five kills and nine points in their win over the Netherlands, a team that entered the match ranked second in the world. Holloway also had 9 kills against Germany and led all players with 19 points, including 12 kills, in a win over Japan.

"I really worked hard for this event and I think my performance reflected all the time and dedication I put forth in my training," Holloway added. "It was a great competition and I am so grateful for the all the hard work the University of Central Oklahoma and U.S. Volleyball did in pulling off such a successful event.

In the wake of the World Championships, Holloway has a laundry list of things she wants to accomplish. First up is the pursuit of a Master's Degree in Therapeutic Recreation from Oklahoma State University. From there, Holloway hopes to become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist.

"Being a part of Team USA has really opened my eyes to what I feel passionate about, namely working with children who share a similar background and make sure they have the capabilities to explore anything that their heart desires," Holloway said. "Eventually, I would like to move back to the Pacific Northwest and start a program for kids with disabilities so that they can grow together and discover all the opportunities available."

Holloway has already spoken with her doctor from Seattle about joining the program she was once a patient in to serve as a mentor for families facing surgery and amputation. She has also worked extensively with the US Paralympics, touring the country and giving speaking engagements on her story and sitting volleyball. Finally, one of the most rewarding experiences for Holloway has been her work with military personnel injured in combat overseas.

"Moving out to Oklahoma, becoming a resident athlete, has created a totally positive lifestyle change for me," Holloway said. "It has really opened my eyes in terms of my future, my career and the type of impact I want to have on people."

Photos Courtesy of John Armuth and USA Volleyball

Below is a feature on Katie Holloway from her 2007-08 season at Cal State Northridge. It was produced and is provided courtesy of YES (Yankees Entertainment and Sports) Network