Town Talk Features

Honoring A Legend

Whenever the home team celebrates a touchdown or goal, MICDS sports fans will be reminded of a longtime teacher and coach who has touched the lives of countless students, teachers, staff and families. Ron Holtman, 89, is retired, but remains a beloved member of the school’s community following a five-decade career there. To show appreciation for his years of service, MICDS has named its newly built campus stadium Ron Holtman Stadium. The $10 million complex debuted in April and has the local community buzzing about its modern features and well-loved namesake.

Designed by Hastings+Chivetta and built by Paric Corporation, the open-air stadium completed in spring 2017 fits up to 1,600 fans, including standing-room spectators. MICDS athletic director Josh Smith says the facility is a big boon and accommodates five programs: football, boys and girls soccer, and boys and girls lacrosse. It features state-of-the-art artificial turf, a concession pavilion, locker rooms, a press box, and team and training rooms. The school’s previous stadium is being rebuilt for track and field activities.

sports goals
Beyond offering an updated, modern locale for games and practices, the new facility is expected to save money; the costly and time-consuming maintenance of the old stadium’s grass turf will not be an issue anymore. The new artificial turf consists of individual blades or fibers designed to keep balls and players moving swiftly. “Even after bad weather, the field is playable and safe for athletes and officials,” Smith notes. “One of the biggest advantages is that the turf doesn’t suffer ruts and divots that can cause athletes to turn their ankles and get injured. There is no such thing as a perfect playing surface, but we looked at a lot of other stadium fields to find the best option for our students. This one plays a lot like natural grass turf in other important ways, and it stays cooler than others, which we like. We’re pretty excited about it!”

Smith says the stadium already has become a centerpiece on campus and for the community. “Its sightlines are tremendous,” he says. “You can see almost everything on campus looking to the east. And the stands are 10 feet above the playing surface, which provides a great viewing experience for fans. That’s unusual for a high school stadium.” He notes that the school’s sports teams experienced some exciting wins the first few games on the field, a proud beginning for the new facility.

a revered leader
Maggie Holtman, Ron’s wife and owner of Advanced Nursing, says the stadium is a wonderful tribute to a devoted history teacher and coach who led football and golf teams at the school. “When you talk to Ron, you see what a humble, everyday guy he is—someone who treats everyone with the same respect and kindness,” she says. “And if you ask him what he has done for the school, he’ll just say he was a teacher. There’s no fanfare about it. But he also will call himself the luckiest guy in the world.” Their children and grandchildren have attended MICDS, so it’s especially exciting for them to see Ron’s achievements proudly recognized, she says.

Holtman began his career at MICDS in 1966 when it was known as St. Louis Country Day School, and he mentored multiple generations of students and athletes over the years. He is enshrined in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and Missouri Football Coaches Hall of Fame, among others, and ranks second among the state’s all-time winningest high school coaches. His football teams marched to the playoffs 16 times, and his golf teams won seven state championships. “Who would’ve guessed that the young man walking onto campus more than 50 years ago would someday have his name on the stadium?” Maggie Holtman muses. “Ron doesn’t like to stand out or draw attention to himself, but he is certainly very honored by this.”

She says her husband’s personality is an unusual combination of humility and competitiveness that served him well as both an educator and coach. “He always wanted to win but never felt it was about him,” she says of his coaching philosophy. “His motto for the kids was, ‘If you succeed, I succeed.’ A student’s father once commented to me, ‘We’ll never know what went on in Ron’s team huddles. But whatever it was, it worked.’ The kids always said, ‘All we want to do is win for him.’”

She adds, “Wherever we go, people recognize Ron and call him ‘Coach.’” Now, the history and accomplishments behind that title are appropriately emblazoned on a stadium wall.

Photo: Bill Barrett