May 2, 2017
Colby Holmes (2010-2013) has a new perspective. After years of hard work and focus led him to great opportunities in college and professional baseball, the former Gamecock pitcher is looking to work behind the scenes of a college baseball program, and South Carolina is helping him take the next step through the Degree Completion Program.
“I want to work in baseball operations,” Holmes said. “I’ve talked to people here and other places. I’ve been doing my internship here with the guys in operations. I’ve really enjoyed it. Seeing everything that goes on was an eye opener. Those guys are there way before the players, and they stay long after, just to make sure everything gets done.”
The Degree Completion Program is part of the Gamecock Student-Athlete Promise for student-athletes who left the university in good academic standing to pursue a professional career, or did not complete their degree due to personal circumstances. The program allows those former student-athletes to apply to be readmitted to come back to campus and finish their degree. After bone spurs in his elbow shortened his professional career, Holmes was thankful to have other options and will earn a Sports Management degree this month.
“It means a lot because I will be the first person in my family to graduate from college,” Holmes said. “My dad graduated from the seminary, but that’s a different thing. It will mean a lot to my family and myself as well.
“When you play baseball, it has to come to an end sooner or later. It was sooner than I would have liked due to injury, but just knowing I’d have something to fall back on after baseball was my biggest reason for coming back.”
Holmes was fortunate to be part of three College World Series teams, including the two national championship seasons in 2010 and 2011.
“We had a good run,” Holmes said. “One of my best memories was getting the chance to pitch the second game in the 2011 World Series against Virginia. I was nervous until right after the first pitch, and then I thought, ‘I’ve got this.’ That moment, and winning that year was absolutely awesome.”
I’d absolutely recommend this program. It’s definitely the way to go.Colby Holmes
Holmes signed as free agent with Atlanta in 2013 after being drafted by the Braves coming out of high school. He pitched two and half years in their system.
“In pro ball, being at the field from 12 o’clock until 12 o’clock was a big adjustment,” Holmes said. “It was more tiring and strenuous than college ball. The maturity part was there. In single A ball, I was one of the older players because there were a lot of high school draftees who were just getting out from under their parent’s wings. I was a mentor to some, I guess.
“The way we travelled at South Carolina was 110% better. I think my first year of pro ball, I was playing rookie ball in Danville, Va., and I remember riding on a bus for 15 hours, and the bathrooms didn’t work on the bus. The higher up I went, the better it was.”
Now 26 and engaged to be married, the Myrtle Beach native enjoyed going back to class without all of the commitments that he had as a student-athlete.
“Time management was always huge,” Holmes recalled from his playing days. “Now I go to the field after class and work for a few hours, and then I have all this free time for my studies. Being able to have all that time study and not have to worry about performing on Friday night is big. Now I just need to perform in the classroom.”
As part of the Degree Completion Program, the former Gamecocks have access to all of the academic resources that were available to them as student-athletes, including tutors and the Dodie Academic Enrichment Center.
“Having all of that has helped me tremendously,” Holmes said. “I had six classes last semester, including Spanish, which I hadn’t taken since 2010. I played with some Latino guys, which helped me out some, but I had a Spanish tutor here that really helped me out. This semester I was in a sports business finance class, which was really tough, and I have a tutor for that. So that’s helped me do a lot better than I thought I might when I went into it. They’re just always there to help us out.
“I’d absolutely recommend this program. It’s definitely the way to go.”
Now that he is done playing baseball, Holmes looks forward to finding work in baseball operations and being around the game in a different capacity.
“It was tough hanging the cleats up, but I’m here graduating, so it’s all working out,” Holmes said.