Jim Holzman considers himself to be a lifelong football guy. He's also a husband, a father, a teacher, and a friend to many.
He's been the head football coach at Century for eight years, but after much consideration, Holzman recently decided to step away from his position — a decision he said wasn't an easy one to make.
"My No. 1 reason is simply that I wanted to be home more with my family," Holzman said. "I have a young daughter who I want to spend more time with and that was the main reason I wanted to step down. I thought this was a good time to do it with my daughter being younger, focus on my job outside of coaching, just a good transitional time for me to step down and let someone else take over the program."
Holzman, 33, grew up in Howard County and played high school football at Centennial. He went on to play at Lebanon Valley College, and accepted his first teaching position at Century in 2006. He worked as an assistant coach under Tony Shermeyer for three years and took over when Shermeyer left to coach Manchester Valley's program in 2009.
"It was definitely a lot of work and responsibility," Holzman said. "I had a great mentor in Tony, I learned a lot from him and he really made the transition easy for me when I came in here. The other is our AD, Randy Pentz, and he taught me a lot about the coaching field, communication, organization, and he's been very supportive of me in the time period I was here."
Holzman said he will continue to teach at Century and interact with his former players on a regular basis. He said he will cherish the connections he's built with them because it's given him the opportunity to get to know them outside of the classroom.
"It's fun for them to see the coaching version of me rather than the teaching version because I'm pretty relaxed in the classroom, a little more animated on the football field," Holzman said. "It's a neat dynamic to see."
The news came as a bit of a shock to Holzman's staff and players, to whom he told of his news about a week ago.
Knights junior Collin Ende said he took Holzman's government class as a freshman and was around him during his time on the Century junior varsity and freshman football teams. He played directly under Holzman at the varsity level for the first time this year and earned the starting quarterback role after a competitive summer of training — something Ende said Holzman always took very seriously.
Ende admitted there was a slight fear in not knowing who would be leading the program next year, but he will take away the offseason work ethic Holzman instilled from the start. The Knights had their best season under Holzman this fall — they finished 8-3 (4-1 in county play) and made the Class 2A West playoffs for the first time since 2009.
"He's awesome and a good coach," Ende said. "He obviously instilled a good, hard work ethic in us as a team and we had a special season this year. He obviously knows what he's doing and I liked him as a coach, honestly. He will definitely be missed."
Their work ethic directly contributed to the team's success on the field this year, and Holzman said he is especially proud of that. The Knights are 42-40 and have made two playoff appearances under Holzman — the last few years have been blossoming ones.
"If you look at the past three years, three years ago we were 2-8 and the year before this 6-4 then 8-3," Ende said. "We've been on an incline winning-wise and I think he's really counted on our work ethic and offseason work. That's a big key and a big takeaway from him."
Holzman attributed the team's success to the responsibilities his coaching staff has taken on and the leadership from his Knights' upperclassmen during offseason workouts.
He may be departing the Century football program, but his players will most likely still call him "Coach" in the school hallways.
"I think we maintained a really competitive program," Holzman said. "This was a standout year for our team in my tenure here. Beyond wins and losses, the big thing is that you hope they become better young men in dealing with adversity, working together to gain good friendships and creating memories to look back on their experiences."