May 2016

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Page 160 of 160

161 M onTaya Holder would have been shocked four years ago if someone told her she could hold her own at track meets in the Big Ten Conference. But the University of Iowa senior enters the home stretch of her competitive career not only as a Big Ten champion, but also a two-time All-American and qualifier for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Tri- als. "I narrowed my search for higher education to small schools, mainly schools in e Mid-Amer- ican Conference," Holder said at a UI Athletics Department All-Staff meeting April 27 in Carver- Hawkeye Arena. "en I got a call from coach Clive Roberts and he said he was interested in me." Holder was a two-time Indiana state champion in the 400-meter dash and her coach at Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis asked her to consider at least one "big school." "I'm glad I did," Holder said. But she didn't get a good jump out of the start- ing blocks on her first visit to Iowa City. Holder was overcome by food poisoning and most of her tour included views from inside bathrooms across campus. "rough it all coach Roberts still convinced me to choose Iowa," Holder said. "I may have been sleep-deprived when I committed on campus, but I never regretted my decision." It turned out to be a pretty good catch for the Hawkeyes. In 2014, Holder ran the third leg on Iowa's 4x100- meter relay that won the Big Ten championship (44.62) and placed 16th at the NCAA Champion- ships (45.02), to become second-team All-Amer- ica. During the 2016 indoor season, Holder was runner-up in the Big Ten in the 600-meter dash (1:29.35) and ran second leg on the 4x400-meter relay that placed ninth at the NCAA Champion- ships (3:33.03), earning another second-team All- America award. "I came in thinking I could not compete with the girls in the Big Ten," Holder said. "No one cared about a two-time 400-meter state champion from Indianapolis; when you come to the (University of ) Iowa, everybody is a state champion. "But I was given the opportunity because my coach saw potential in me and I didn't want to let him down." Holder's liveliness on the track parallels her in- volvement in campus activities. She is a member of the Iowa Student Athlete Advisory Committee (ISAAC), the Presidential Committee on Athletics (PCA) Well-Being Committee, and the Minority Focus Group Advisory Board. Holder is majoring in recreation and sport management and entrepre- neurship. "I have learned how to adapt to my environment, be a better leader, teammate, learner and ulti- mately all those things made me a better person," Holder said. "Off the track I have been given mul- tiple opportunities to have my voice heard to make this athletics department better." rough the transition to college and the ups and downs that followed, Holder said she always had a Hawkeye in her corner. ere were weekly meet- ings with Andy Winkleman, director of education- al programming, where Holder said Winkleman "listened to my cries about school." ere were weekly meetings with Roberts where Holder said Roberts "listened to my cries about everything." "Coach Roberts wasn't just my coach, he was my mentor and ears when I needed to talk," Holder said. "Our 30-minute meetings about track turned into hour-long meetings about life." As her time at the UI comes to a close, Holder smiled when explaining her fondness of coach Joey Woody's "compliment sandwiches" — the practice of opening dialogue with praise, adding a negative, then closing with another compliment. Holder closed by citing a quotation by Aldous Huxley: Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him." "Iowa happened to me and I plan on using this wonderful experience to guide my future," Holder said.

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