Last winter, Holland Reynolds, a San Francisco high school junior and cross-country runner, found herself in the middle of a media frenzy when she collapsed during a race at a state meet in Fresno and then literally crawled to the finish line. At the time, she thought if she didn’t cross the finish line, the team would lose its first-place championship position and hence dampen the winning streak of coach Jim Tracy. Tracy, who holds the most state championship titles of any high school team coach, was diagnosed last June with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. As viewed by thousands on YouTube and millions on Good Morning America, Reynolds made it across the finish line and was whisked away to safety. Reynolds, who like most 16-year-olds would rather blend in than be scrutinized by strangers, admits the attention got to be a bit too much. But, she says, “The press helped me spread awareness [about] Lou Gehrig’s disease.”
The first link on Google for “Holland Reynolds” is from The New York Times. Do you realize what a big deal that is? All the attention of radio shows, news channels and newspapers came at me extremely fast, which didn’t allow me time to process what had actually happened. But now, looking back on the experience, I wish I had taken a moment to appreciate what was happening.
What do you think makes Jim Tracy such an inspirational coach? He is honest and humorous and because of this all his runners do their best to make him happy. He will always tell you the truth—something very valuable in sports. We all train as hard as we can and race as hard as we can just for a simple “well done” from Jim. Once this happens, you know you’ve done well in his eyes—and you know it’s true, coming from Jim.
When did you start running? I started running in third grade for my elementary school’s cross-country team. With my mom’s encouragement, I continued running through eighth grade. However, it wasn’t until high school that I really began to enjoy it.
Do you have a favorite trail run in Marin? Tennessee Valley, to the beach and back.
Do you like to run alone or with a buddy? I love to run with anyone on my team!
What have you learned from this experience? Although [it sounds] pretty cheesy, I truly believe now [it’s important] to never give up, because persevering can result in fabulous experiences.
What have you learned by being on a running team? Although no one ever thinks of cross-country as being a particularly “team-oriented” sport, through being on a running team I have learned to truly depend upon teammates in order to achieve success. Even when I did not have the race I was expecting, my teammates fought through and won the state title.
Do you think being involved in a sport has helped you as a student? I find that I manage my time much better when I am in season and get my homework done in a more efficient manner. Out of season, I have too much time to waste and don’t get my homework done as quickly.
Do you plan on running in college? Do you know where you’d like to go? I would very much like to run in college; however, it’s a bit early in the process to know where I want to go. I’m thinking I’d like to stay on the West Coast.
Favorite restaurant in Marin? The Buckeye.
What is your favorite lazy-day activity? When I have a good book to read, lazy days are spent on the couch reading as much as I can. Otherwise, I catch up on TV shows.
Mimi Towle has been the editor of Marin Magazine for over a decade. She lived with her family in Sycamore Park and Strawberry and thoroughly enjoyed raising two daughters in the mayhem of Marin’s youth sports; soccer, swim, volleyball, ballet, hip hop, gymnastics and many many hours spent at Miwok Stables. Her community involvements include volunteering at her daughter’s schools, coaching soccer and volleyball (glorified snack mom), being on the board of both Richardson Bay Audubon Center. Currently residing on a floating home in Sausalito, she enjoys all water activity, including learning how to steer a 6-person canoe for the Tamalpais Outrigger Canoe Club. Born and raised in Hawaii, her fondness for the islands has on occasion made its way into the pages of the magazine.