Bob Holmes, otherwise known as “The One Man Volleyball Team,” visited Union High School Wednesday, amazing the students with his game and giving them a reality check with his message.
Holmes, who is now 57 and hails from Boston, Mass., travels the country playing against school volleyball teams all by himself. He usually plays three games at each school, one against girls, one against boys, and one against teachers.
Since 1986, Holmes has visited over 5, 000 schools and has played over 18,000 games, normally averaging 40 to 50 games per week. He wins 97 percent of the games he plays.
He has also played against professional sports teams, beating the likes of the New England Patriots, the Miami Dolphins, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Washington Redskins, a first place beach volleyball team, and many others. Not bad for a guy who was never on the volleyball team in school.
Holmes’ winning reputation immediately impressed Union High students, who were eager to see if they could be one of the few to beat him. To encourage them, Holmes told the Spartans he would give them a pizza party if they won. During the boys’ game, he was so impressed with how well they played that he sweetened the deal, saying he would give them each $50 if they beat him.
As loud, energetic dance music filled the gym, Union High students and teachers played hard and gave Holmes a run for his money, but they were ultimately unable to beat “The One Man Volleyball Team.”
In the end, it does not matter who wins or loses, especially not to Holmes and Union High teachers and staff. The important thing is that through the volleyball games Holmes has made a connection with the students. This connection helps make the students more receptive to what he has to say and the real reason he is there.
“My game is not as important as my message,” Holmes told Union High students as they found their seats on the gym floor.
Holmes expressed his concern over teen suicide, bullying, and drinking and driving. With the help of some jarring visuals, he showed them what could result from such reckless behavior and bad decisions.
He shared with them the story of a girl who was hit by a drunk driver and described how she had to have reconstructive surgery after being badly burned in the crash. Students were shocked when he showed the heart — breaking before and after photos of the girl.
He also spoke about how all the commercials young people see on TV are dangerous. “Don’t believe the commercials. They’re liars. They don’t care what happens to you 10 years from now,” warned Holmes, specifically taking aim at beer commercials that make drinking appear like a way to find happiness. “I’m sick of the messages in these commercials. It’s time to tell the truth.”
Holmes encouraged Union High students not to go with the crowd. He told them that sometimes taking a stand may mean standing alone, like he does out on the court during every game, but that being different than the world and beating the odds is worth it. “One person can make a difference,” Holmes reminded them.
Before saying goodbye, Holmes shared the heart of his message, the thing that keeps him going and feeds his passion for impacting the lives of young people. “Jesus is not a curse word. Jesus is my Savior,” said Holmes. “I’m a Christian and I’m not ashamed of it.”
Holmes’ volleyball games at Union will likely be talked about in the halls for a few days, but his attention-getting message will not be forgotten any time soon.
For more information about Bob Holmes, visit his website www.beatbob.com.