Feature flashback – Allison Holiday

After watching Allison Holiday play in several games as a high school basketball star, this feature was written for the Arizona Daily Sun.

DEDICATION PAYS OFF FOR MVHS’S HOLIDAY

January 28, 2006
By Ed Odeven
WINSLOW

While many of us are hitting the snooze button for the umpteenth time, hoping to get 10 more minutes of precious sleep, Allison Holiday is preparing for a busy workout routine before school begins.

Each morning, she wakes up and goes for a run. Then she arrives at school early, finds Kayenta Monument Valley girls varsity basketball coach Robert Nash and gets the key to the gym.

She turns on the light.

She steps to the free-throw line.

She starts shooting.

Layups are next, and “then I work (my way) out to the 3-point line,” Holiday was saying after her top-ranked Class 3A team beat host and No. 2 Winslow 50-49 Friday night.

Holiday led the Mustangs with 20 points in this big-time 3A North Region showdown. It was a typical Holiday performance: clutch shots, clutch defense and confident, steady leadership from the point.

These are qualities that attracted the interest of numerous women’s college programs, including NAU and UNLV, Colorado State and Arizona State.

Holiday signed a letter of intent to play at UNLV next fall. In doing so, she became the first Mustang in Nash’s 17 years at the helm to sign a Division-I scholarship while still in high school. (Other MVHS grads have played college ball and then gone on to four-year schools. Irene Bahe, a center at Mesa Community College, is expected to play at the next level.)

“She’s been working hard for the last four years,” Nash says, his eyes beaming with pride.

“I think she’s a real good role model. … To know that she works hard and I know that she’s going to do well at the next level, I give a lot of credit to her because she wants to go on and do well.”

“As Holiday discussed what it means to her to play for UNLV, one gets the impression that this wasn’t some overnight goal. Nope, it’s been her passion for years.

“It was one of my goals when I was younger,” she says.

And it still is.

“Allison has a strong will to be successful at this level, and her drive to be at the best of her game is unquestionable,” UNLV coach Regina Miller said recently. “She is a very smart and knowledgeable basketball player and will provide us strong leadership at the point guard position.”

This year, Holiday is averaging 18 points, nearly 10 assists and five steals a game. A year ago, the 5-foot-6 guard, averaged 18 points, 12 assists, nine rebounds and five steals per game and helped the Mustangs advance to the 3A semifinals. She helped MVHS reach the title game in each of the two previous years.

She was a sixth man during her freshman season, but quickly found more playing time as a sophomore. Over the next three years, Holiday’s reputation grew and grew. She also starred on the Arizona Thunder AAU team, participating in tourneys in Las Vegas and Oregon.

“All she wants to do is improve her game,” Nash says. “…I know she’s going to do well at the next level, and I give a lot of credit to her because she wants to go on and do well.”

The future presents mixed emotions for Holiday. But going to UNLV is a dream come true.

“I was excited and kind of scared at the same time, because next year I’m not going to be in high school,” she admits, recalling the day she signed her letter of intent.

“I’m going to be out in the real world, and the best thing about it is I’m going to be doing what I love: playing basketball.”

Though she wears No. 23, which you remember was made famous by a guy named Michael Jordan, Holiday’s favorite current NBA player is Suns point guard Steve Nash.

The reason?

“I enjoy watching him play and getting his teammates better and how he passes,” Holiday says, smiling.

“I like playing point guard. I enjoy getting my teammates open, making my teammates better and giving my team the confidence to do more.”

Her competitive drive comes from being the youngest of Preston and Alicia Holiday’s five children. She has four older brothers.

“They pushed me around when I was younger,” she says. “I learned a lot from them. I just learned constructive criticism.”

Along the way, Holiday has also learned how to dominate a game.

“If teams double team her, I think she knows where the open people are, and when we run the fast break, she knows where everybody is on the court,” Coach Nash says. “She has a tremendous brain for the game.”

Just ask Winslow head coach Don Petranovich, who saw Holiday score 41 points, including 17 from the free-throw line, in the Mustangs’ overtime triumph over his club in Kayenta in early January.

“There’s no doubt that Allison’s a great ballplayer. She really is,” Petranovich says. “She knows how to get herself open, whether it’s a drive, a slight hesitation, or a big step back. She knows how to do those things. She uses them to her advantage.”

The same is true of her desire to inspire. She knows young Navajo girls look up to her — and she embraces this role.

“There were girls before (at MVHS) that could have done it,” she says of earning a D-I hoops scholarship, “but it’s a big accomplishment for me. I’m glad that I’m somebody’s role model and someone’s looking up to me and I’m showing the path (to success) for Native American girls.”

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