Updated: Mar 13, 2021
After having immense success as a freshman, Holloway transferred to a different school. A year later, she returned to CAU. Read what drove her back to the Panthers and more below.
Holloway waiting for the second free throw to be shot.
Photo taken by Derrian Carter.
Ten years ago, a young girl watched the conclusion of the 2010 NBA Finals in her living room that featured the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant had won his fifth NBA championship, and in that moment, it inspired the young girl to pursue basketball, wear number 24 all the way until she got to college and to work as hard as she can to be the best. That young girl was Naomi Holloway.
Holloway is a junior, business administration major with a concentration in management. She is a hard-working, passionate and diligent student athlete, who exudes these qualities on and off the hardwood. Her basketball head coach, Tony Bailey, describes her as a tenacious competitor who is willing to go above and beyond.
Holloway and her teammates returning to bench during a timeout.
Photo taken by Derrian Carter.
In Holloway’s freshman year, she achieved immense success on the court. She was named the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Freshman of the Year, the SIAC Newcomer of the Year and she made second team All-Conference. She averaged 16 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, and she led the Lady Panthers to win the 2017 SIAC Women’s Tournament. Despite her success, she transferred to Columbus State University her sophomore year to play basketball. “I wanted another experience, different than what I had [at CAU],” she said. During her time away from CAU, she averaged 5.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1 assist per game, a drastic drop from where she was her freshman year.
“I definitely realized that being at an HBCU and being under Coach Bailey was more of the experience I wanted… the HBCU experience is one of a kind.” After one year at Columbus State University, Holloway returned to CAU. Coach Bailey says, “She was honest with me and said it was a struggle for her, but she was eager to get back.” Now a junior, Holloway has taken on a more mature role on the Lady Panthers. “I have grown mentally on the court, mentally when it comes to X’s and O’s and mentally with being a strong leader,” she says. Another factor that led to her becoming more mentally tough is a knee injury that she suffered.
“She had a knee injury, but nobody worked harder than Naomi to get herself back,” Coach Bailey says. The knee injury made Holloway miss 10 games this year. She has dealt with injuries since her junior year of high school, but she has never missed an extended period of time. During her time off the court, she learned how she could contribute to the team through leadership and giving younger players advice. Since returning from injury, she has averaged 13.8, 2.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game.
“Being an athlete on campus has helped me be an inspiration [to others].” Off the court, Holloway has committed a portion of her time to give back to the Atlanta community. Holloway and her teammates volunteered at Open Hand Atlanta, detailing it as a “fun and impactful experience.” Further, she is involved in clubs, such as: National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLC) and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). She credits her love of giving back to sports and her leadership personality.
When Holloway isn’t shooting hoops or giving back to the community, she is giving out meal and workout plans to peers who requests them. It started with her peers on social media seeing her fitness. “It gradually grew from there… people started asking me for tips, so I researched different workouts and foods for people,” she says. When her peers ask for tips, she doesn’t just give regular advice. She asks what are their specific goals for their health. Afterwards, she researches foods and workouts to give them.
CAU has shaped Holloway by revealing to her that she is more than an athlete. She credits the “intelligent, diverse and multicultural students that look just like [her]” for her growth at CAU. When her time playing basketball at CAU is up, and she graduates, she wants to be remembered as the type of player that coaches talk about for years to come. She wants to be described as a player that “never gave up, came to work everyday and even through adversity, fought.”
This story has been originally published in Clark Atlanta University's student newspaper - the Panther. For inquiries, email James McJunkins: firstname.lastname@example.org