Newly named Neshoba Central athletic director Tommy Holland, left, demonstrates a weight lifting machine for principal John Bowen.
Newly named Neshoba Central athletic director Tommy Holland, left, demonstrates a weight lifting machine for principal John Bowen.
Career-wise, Tommy Holland has always considered Neshoba Central High School to be his home.

Holland played baseball while attending Neshoba Central as a student. He came back and coached the girls fast-pitch softball team to back-to-back state championships.

Recently, he has been named athletic director at Neshoba Central and Holland says he is ready for the challenge.

"The opportunity came along for me to become athletic director and I took it," Holland said. "I've always wanted to be the athletic director. It's a dream come true."

Holland is not coming into his new job, promising victories on the field and state championships in every sport. But he said he plans for there to be expectations of both coaches and students to build successful programs.

"We are a 5-A school and I want to see our athletic program compete successfully on the 5-A level," Holland said. "We want to be the best we can be in every sport.

"We are expecting success and improvement from everyone involved. We want to put a quality athlete on the field. If this is expected, at some point it will come about and we'll be competitive on the 5-A level."

Getting to that point takes hard work and dedication. Holland noted that students and coaches have been working all summer in their respective sports to get better.

"Having a good summer program is an expectation I am going to have," Holland said. "Being on the team is a good thing but you have to work hard to get better. We have worked extremely hard in all of our programs this summer and it will pay off."

In recent years, Neshoba Central has worked to upgrade its facilities. A new concession stand was built at the football stadium. The gym has been repainted. And just this week, new weight-lifting equipment was installed at the cost of around $55,000. Perhaps, a new football stadium is not too far down the road.

"We are looking ahead and making plans," Holland said. "It's a process."

Holland plans to be involved in the entire athletic programming. Part of that will involve working with coaches on their scheduling and making sure that the eligibility forms handled. He will be attending meetings on both the district level and with the Mississippi High School Activities Association.

"That's all part of it," Holland said. "But I also plan to be working with our coaches and making sure that they have what they need to be successful."

One goal will be to get more students involved in the athletic program.

"The more kids we have in activities, the better," Holland said. "Sports may not be for everyone but we want to make sure that opportunities are available."

"We are excited that Tommy has become our athletic director," Neshoba Central Principal John Bowen said. "We are a growing 5-A school and we feel like he will help us grow and develop our athletic program.

"His position is part-time right now in that he will be teaching a few classes, too. But down the line, we are looking at this becoming a full-time position."

Holland was born and raised in Neshoba County. He graduated from Neshoba Central in 1992 and went to East Central for two years where was on the baseball team.

After East Central, he attended Mississippi State University where he graduated in 1996. He coached on year at Macon Central Academy and two years at Meridian High School before coming home to Neshoba Central as an assistant baseball coach.

Two years later, he became the girls softball coach, a post he held for five years. During that time, he led the Lady Rockets to two state fast-pitch championships in 2005 and 2006, and a runner-up finish in 2004.

In 2008, he completed his Masters degree at Mississippi State University and moved from being a coach to being an administrator. He was assistant principal at the junior high for two years and served as principal this past school year.

And right now, of course, he's getting ready for the Neshoba County Fair.

"I have been going all of my life," Holland said. "We stay on the campgrounds and have a lot of fun.

"To me, the Neshoba County Fair always marks the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year," Holland said.

And this year as he enjoys the Fair, he will be thinking about his new job. Holland said that he will be learning his new position during the next few months.

"There is always a learning curve," Holland said. "I have a vision for this athletic program and it's going to take time to develop. And it's going to take teamwork with the students, the teachers and staff and the community.

"To paraphrase a familiar saying, it's going to take a village to build an athletic program."