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Holcomb finds new home at Carleton
Roy Koenig, Sports Analyst
Roy Koenig, sports wrap, steele county times

Maybe he was destined to be a coach. Alec Holcomb grew up with his dad Tony as his coach. His younger sister Alyssa has an assistant position. But Alec wasn’t necessarily looking for a coaching gig when the Carleton baseball opportunity came his way. The 24-year-old, 2016 Owatonna High School graduate officially took on his new role in early January with the Northfield college. 


“I’m feeling really good right now, for a simple word. Grateful. Thankful. I have had many coaches, teammates, friends, and so many people that have helped me get where I’m at.” He hinted at the possibility of coaching a couple of years ago during an interview I had with him while he was transitioning from North Dakota State University to attend grad school at Concordia-St. Paul. 


Holcomb pitched a couple of years with Division One NDSU, where he graduated from in 2020. And used his COVID exemption to pitch a season with the Division II Golden Bears while getting his master’s in coaching and administration, “with really no intention of using the master’s in the short term. More of…maybe I want to be an athletic director down the road. Maybe I want to be a head college coach down the road.” 


Holcomb was working in Rochester in a personal training role with an emphasis on baseball when a connection he formed while playing with the Dundas Dukes amateur baseball team reached out. Carleton was without a baseball coaching staff for fall training sessions. Holcomb began commuting once a week. “By week two, the second practice, the kids were like, you can come a little bit more.” 


When the job was posted, “I applied, and went through the interview process. Luckily, I made a good impression with the kids and kind of built some of that trust because I was young. That was a barrier right away. I built that rapport and the rest is history.” 




“Your parents really do mold who you are. A lot of credit goes to them right away, Tony and Rone. Awesome. And my dad’s been coaching since I can remember being able to walk and play outside. He was coaching me in baseball, hockey and football growing up. He helped out Owatonna High School.” Holcomb says he’s learned a lot from his dad and his sister, “Different sports, there’s a lot of carryover. Coaching is teaching, and educating kids, and just growing that passion.” Tony coaches girls’ hockey at Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato. Alyssa is at New Prague. 


Holcomb is thrilled with the attitude of the players after wondering, “What’s the level of commitment, the level of care, the level of buy-in, compared from level to level to level? I played at Division Two. I played junior college. I played Division One. At those levels, everyone was very competitive. I wasn’t sure what it would be at. Truthfully, from a competitive, want-to-get-better, buy-in standpoint, it’s the exact same. College baseball players, and college athletes in general, they want someone to help lead them in the right direction. They want to work hard, get better and do what they love doing.” 



He sees Division Three athletics as part of an overall, well-rounded college experience and hopes to build long-term relationships, “I want them to succeed outside of the baseball diamond and past Carleton College. I want them to look back and say, that was the best four years of my life at Carleton. But also, I want to be that coach where they can give me a call once a year. Hey coach, I run this business out in California…That’s kind of my overall goal. That’s what’s really cool about Division III athletics…At this level, they care the same amount, if not more, about competing, getting better, all that buy-in stuff, but with a more realistic, hey, I’m going to make a difference in the world.” 

Holcomb now becomes a recruiter as well. He played college ball in Iowa, North Dakota, and the Twin Cities, untapped areas for the Knights, “I’m a Minnesota guy. I’m a Midwest guy. There are no kids on the current roster that grew up in Minnesota…That was a little bit of a surprise to me right away.” He says about half the roster is from out west, “A lot of high-level academic and good baseball players that want to leave California for school” come to Carleton instead of going all the way to the east coast. 

“My training background of having trained high school kids, to get them to the college level. As a college coach now, I kind of know what I’m looking for.” He believes he’ll do some travel to recruit, but also look locally through his connections, in addition to online recruiting. One of the first to contact and congratulate Holcomb was Faribault High School coach Charlie Lechtenberg, who was also doing a little recruiting of his own if Holcomb wants to continue playing summer ball. 



Holcomb credits many of his Owatonna High School coaches, “People who believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. Tate Cummins who was my high school baseball coach, awesome role model. Marc Achterkirch was my individual linebackers’ coach and defensive coordinator. Jeff Williams, head coach of Owatonna football. Josh Storm was my head coach for hockey. Eric Fink was a big supporter for hockey. I can’t thank them enough.” His college coaches also left a strong impression on him. 



Owatonna senior Collin Vick recently announced he will play basketball at Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, “I had been offered a roster spot earlier in the school year. And I had taken a visit earlier in the school year as well. I really liked it. And I just continued to talk with the coaches and build a good relationship and I kind of felt that it was time and that was the school I wanted to go to.” 

After playing a big role off the bench last season for the Huskies’ state tournament run, Vick is a captain this season. It’s been a strong start to the season, “I think this is something that we all saw happening if we just kept working. We kind of got a little rattled at the beginning of the season when we didn’t start off how we’d like to.” 

He says the win at Rochester Mayo was a big confidence boost, coming during a stretch of eight wins over nine games. The Huskies lost a close game to Big Nine leading Mankato East, “[Coach Josh Williams] told us at the beginning of the year that the conference is really wide open this year for anyone to take.”  



OHS won the league crown last winter and then captured the section title to advance to Target Center for the state tournament, “That was a lot of fun. That was a moment I think I’ll never forget, getting to play against Cretin-Derham Hall and guarding Tre [Holloman, Michigan State]. That was a lot of fun…That was probably one of the best moments of my basketball career…We kind of shut him down a bit.” 

Vick’s a big Minnesota Vikings fan and knows he’ll run across many green and gold faithful while playing for the Blue Devils, “I might try to convert a few of those people,” he joked. 



Thursday, Jan. 26 
OHS wrestling triangular, 5 p.m. 
OHS girls’ hockey vs Mankato West, 7 p.m. 
Medford wrestling vs LCWM, 7 p.m. 

Friday, Jan. 27 
OHS boys’ basketball vs Albert Lea, 7:30 p.m. 
Medford boys’ basketball vs Triton, 7:15 p.m. 

Saturday, Jan. 28 
OHS girls’ hockey vs Hastings, 3 p.m.

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