By Bill Foley
In Bryan Holland, Carroll College is getting more than a 4.0 student and a solid defensive line and linebacker prospect.
The Saints are also getting a classic Mining City nickname.
His teammates and classmates call him Hugo, and Hugo signed to play football with the Fighting Saints during a ceremony Wednesday at Butte Central’s Rotunda.
“It just seemed like home,” Holland said of his reason for signing with the Helena school.
Holland, a starter on the defending Class A state champion BC boys’ basketball team, was a three-year starter and a four-year letterman for Butte Central’s football team.
As a senior, Holland took home second-team all-conference honors on both sides of the ball, playing on the offensive and defensive line. He will represent the West Side on the defensive line in the Montana East-West Shrine Game in Billings.
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds (though he is closer to 200 pounds during basketball season), Holland expects to get looks at defensive end linebacker for the Saints.
BC coach Don Peoples Jr., a 1986 Carroll College graduate, said Holland is a perfect fit for the Saints on the field and in the classroom.
“He had a tremendous work ethic,” Peoples said of Holland’s days on the BC football team. “He was always one of our leaders in our offseason program. He was always an extremely hard worker. He led by example.”
Classmates gathered around the Rotunda to cheer on Holland as he signed while sitting with his parents, Joe and Beth, and his brother Danny.
“We want to congratulate Mr. Bryan Holland and his family on going to the next level to study academics at Carroll College, one of the best colleges in the United States,” said BC principal J.P. Williams, who is also a Carroll grad. “We also want to say congratulations for your opportunity to continue your athletic career. We’re all proud of you. We know you’re going to do a great job.”
After signing, Holland answered the “speech” calls from his classmates.
“I want to thank my teammates for pushing me every day, my coaches for teaching me everything I know, and of course my family,” Holland said. “I couldn’t have done anything without them.”
Then, the future Saint was hit with calls of “Hugo,” a nickname that goes back to his sophomore year in Spanish class.
“We just drew names out of a hat,” Holland explained of the moniker. “Mine was Hugo and it just stuck.”
The name really took off when Butte Central basketball coach Brodie Kelly got ahold of it. Kelly wanted to eliminate confusion between Holland and former Maroon Ryan Wahl.
“When he’d yell at either me or Ryan, we couldn’t tell which one he was saying,” Holland said. “So, he said, ‘We’ll fix that problem. You’re Hugo now.’”
Now, Holland is called “Hugo” over the loud speaker at basketball games. It is a name that is surely going to carry over to his days at Carroll.
Holland said he plans to major in civil engineering. The signing came a few minutes before classmate Egan Lester signed with Montana Tech.