The need to succeed has always been there for Carly Holboke.
As far back as her memory allows, anyway.
She was 3 years old when she remembers seeing her neighbor zoom past her house on his bicycle — sans training wheels.
“I asked my mom how old he was. She said he was 3, just like me,” Holboke recalled. “I said, ‘Take my training wheels off now. I couldn’t let him beat me.’
“It’s been like this forever.”
The proverbial training wheels have been off ever since, too.
Holboke, a junior from Mountain View, takes on every endeavor with a drive for excellence.
She does not want to be a good student; she strives to be a perfect student.
She does not want to be average in the weight room; she wants to break personal records.
She does not want to be decent in basketball; she wants to be among the best in the region.
A couple of weeks ago, Holboke broke the school record for points in a game when she scored 39 against Fort Vancouver. That record did not last long enough for the newspaper print to dry. Four days later, she posted 46 points in a win over Hudson’s Bay.
Huge scoring nights will get a basketball player noticed. Yet, she has been impressing those around her long before those big nights.
Her coach, Mat Clark, almost feels as if all those points do a disservice to Holboke.
“A lot of people get stuck in the stats. For me, she’s the whole package,” Clark said. “She’s not a prima donna. She is very team-oriented, very willing to listen. She likes to watch game film.”
Holboke has no problem sharing the spotlight, crediting her teammates for sacrificing their own shots by passing her the ball in prime position to score.
“They don’t keep stats for the high-fives she gives her teammates,” Clark said. “There are a lot of them on the way back down the court.”
Her weight training teacher, Ted Beyer, raves about her, describing Holboke as a perfect example of what it means to be a student-athlete and a leader.
“How many people you know get a (personal record) in the (weight room), then score 30 points that night in a basketball game?” Beyer asked.
Then there is one particular opposing coach.
It is rare when Prairie coach Al Aldridge accepts a player from the same league to play for his summer club team. After all, why help a rival?
But Holboke played for Columbia Cascades this past summer, for Aldridge.
He, too, was impressed with what he had heard about Holboke, the student and person, as well as basketball player. It must have worked out.
“She’s going to come back and play for me (this summer),” Aldridge said.
“It was an incredible honor when he wanted me to play for his team,” Holboke said. “I know the reputation Columbia Cascades has. I was so happy. I didn’t even think twice. Of course. He knows so much about the game.”
In another sign of respect, Holboke is now the target for opposing defenses. The word is out. Holboke is really, really good at putting the ball in the basket.
She averaged 26 points per game in her first 11 outings. Against the stifling defense of first-place Prairie, she scored 15. The next game, Camas put its best defender on Holboke for all 32 minutes, limiting Holboke to 11 points.
Sounds like another challenge to overcome, almost like a test in a difficult class.
If her school work is any indication, Holboke will find a way to deal with the extra attention on the basketball court. Advanced Placement (AP) psychology, AP English, physics, U.S. history, pre-calculus and sports development are on her slate right now. She carries a 4.0 grade-point average.
“It could actually, maybe happen,” she said of the possibility of being a valedictorian next year. “But I’m signing up for really tough classes next year.”
She will not take it easy. That’s not her style.
There is nothing easy about trying to turn around a basketball program. As a freshman, Holboke and the Thunder endured a four-win campaign. Last year, the Thunder rebounded with a second-place finish in the 3A Greater St. Helens League, but then lost in the district tournament semifinals.
This season, it’s almost as if the Thunder have had to start over again. Clark is the new coach, and five players — including three starters — in the main rotation are gone from last year.
Yet here are the Thunder, still competing for a top-three finish in the league, for the opportunity to excel at district. They are being led by Holboke, who balances her time trying to succeed in the classroom or the court.
A lot of times, they intersect.
Sports development is her favorite class. For one, it gives her the opportunity in the middle of the day to work out and relieve the stress of a difficult class load. Then there is the fact that building her body makes her a better basketball player.
“When I drive to the basket now, girls are bouncing off of me instead of me bouncing off of them,” Holboke said. “I’m a lot stronger than I was my freshman year, that’s for sure. For all the girls who play basketball and don’t like to lift, I say lift. It will build your body immensely.”
Still, not even Holboke expected to be scoring at the rate she is this season.
“I came into the season hoping to average in the teens, maybe 15, 16, or 17,” she said. “I’m so happy with how I’m playing right now.”
Yet she will not go long talking about herself without mentioning her teammates. Those back-to-back games with the combined 85 points? She said her part was easy.
“My teammates made me look a lot better than I am,” Holboke said. “They just threw me some amazing passes.”
Holboke said she has no idea how many points she had during a particular contest. A few people came up to her after her 39-point performance to give her the news.
“Are you serious?” she recalled. “I didn’t believe them at first.”
Two games later, she had her 46-point effort.
“It’s almost a blur. I was just playing,” she said. “I was told after the game, and I was in shock.”
That night she connected on five 3-pointers and made 20 field goals in all. She was 1 of 2 from the free-throw line.
While she is more than those points, it is those points that will get her noticed. Just like her grades will get noticed, too. Together, the points and the GPA make for a good combination for someone who wants to play college basketball.
As a junior, she knows the decision is not that far off, but she is more into concentrating on this basketball season before worrying about her college choice.
Holboke knows that if she stays true to herself — by maintaining her work ethic — she will have plenty of options.
“Basketball season is the most hectic time. When I get home, I will start doing my homework,” she said. “I just have to do my homework right away. Weekends are my days to hang out with my friends. It’s just become my way of life. I’m just kind of go, go, go.”
Because slowing down, to her, is kind of admitting defeat. Holboke cannot do that.
“It’s in my blood. It’s in my DNA to have this competitive spirit,” she said. “It makes life more interesting that way.”