One-man volleyball team plays to inspire North Layton students to beat the odds

Wednesday , January 11, 2017 - 6:56 AM

ANNA BURLESON, Standard-Examiner Staff

LAYTON -— The entire North Layton Junior High School volleyball team bobbed, dove and passed the volleyball at an all-school assembly Tuesday morning. On the other side of the net, 60-year-old Bob Holmes stood alone, returning most of their volleys and ultimately beating the girls.

Holmes has a reputation for winning. He holds the Ripley's Believe It or Not World Record for most games played by an athlete in history, but Holmes also uses his skills to show students they can beat the odds when it comes to bullying, drugs, alcohol and suicide.

“It's absolutely wonderful to know you don't have to be the next statistic," he said to the gym full of students Tuesday, Jan. 10. "Decide you won't give up, I'll look ahead, I won't believe the commercials and I'll stand alone and encourage people instead of bullying them."

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Principal Ed Campbell hosted Holmes last year and said the assembly was well-received and teachers were already planning ahead for Tuesday’s assembly, trying to figure out the best way to beat him.

Two of the most competitive were Assistant Principal Stacy Miller and volleyball coach Brittani Wallace, both of whom played the sport in college.

“We just planned we were going to serve where he wasn’t, and we were glad he was wearing bright colors so we could see him, but obviously that didn’t help in the end,” Miller said after the team of 11 teachers lost to Holmes.

According to his website, Holmes has played against and beaten the Minnesota Vikings, the Washington Redskins and the Miami Dolphins to name a few.

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He wasn’t unbeatable Tuesday, however, because a group of 10 boys from the school managed to win a match to the delight of the entire school.

Holmes said it was the first junior high team of boys to beat him in 12 years.

After the volleyball matches, Holmes told a series of stories about suicidal students he has encountered and encouraged the students to be there for one another, respect the opposite sex, never give up and not turn to drugs or alcohol.

“I had somebody say ‘We could have Budweiser sponsor your games, you’ll make millions,’” Holmes told the crowd. I said ‘Bud never made anybody wiser.’”

Utah has had a higher youth suicide rate compared to the U.S. for more than a decade, according to the Utah Department of Health.

Ninth-grade student Will Rahter said Holmes’ message was helpful.

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“I feel like it helps some teens out there knowing there’s somebody who cares and suicide is not the option,” he said.

Holmes is performing at several area schools this week including Roy High School, West Point Junior High School, Morgan Middle School, Morgan High School, Layton Christian Academy and Northridge High School.

Holmes invited all students to Syracuse Junior High School at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11, where he will try to break his record for the most people he has ever won a game against; 1,000. He will also be shooting footage for a reality show pilot called “Beat the Odds.”

“The country needs to be inspired,” Holmes said.

Contact education reporter Anna Burleson at aburleson@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnagatorB or like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/BurlesonReports.

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