Falcons’ Holben excelled in all three seasons
With many high school sports requiring 12 months of the year of dedication and training, a number of athletes have devoted their careers to a single sport. The days of athletes competing in all three high school sports seasons seems to be dwindling.
But 2019 Salisbury graduate Erica Holben may be one of the few left of a dying breed.
Holben was a key member of both the Salisbury girls soccer and basketball teams in the fall and winter. She was also a district medalist and state-qualifying jumper during the spring track and field season. That versatility earned her the title of Salisbury Press Female Athlete of the Yea rfor the 2018-19 school year.
“I think continuing to play three sports is what made me the athlete I am,” Holben said. “Each of them kept me in shape for the next, and it was enjoyable looking forward to a fresh season instead of playing one sport year-round.”
Holben’s high school athletic career came to a close with her best track and field season to date, even while dealing with a quad injury. The Temple-bound freshman earned a league medal in the high jump, followed by three silver medals at districts (in the high jump, long jump and triple jump) and a state appearance in Shippensburg for the high jump.
“It was an amazing feeling to make it to states for high jump,” Holben said. “I could hit the qualifying mark since my first year jumping, I just never got it in districts to qualify [for states] until this year. I would have liked to do better at states, but it was a great way to end the season and my athletic career.”
Holben jumped 5 feet, 2 inches in the high jump at districts to qualify for states, improving from her mark of 4-11 at leagues. She placed 23rd at states with a height of 4-8.
After placing fifth in the long jump at leagues, Holben took second at districts with a leap of 16 feet. She improved significantly in the triple jump from leagues (11th place, 32 feet, 1 ¼ inches) to districts (second place, 33 feet, 7 ¾ inches).
“I was pleased with my performance this year, considering I had a strained quad on my jumping leg,” Holben said. “I enjoyed jumping because it was a challenge. The individual aspect of jumping meant there was no one to blame but myself if I didn’t perform well, so I just had to push myself to be better.”
In the fall, Holben was a key member of the Lady Falcons’ soccer team that went 8-2-2 in the Colonial League, just missed the league tournament, and advanced to the District 11 Class 2A semifinals against Palisades. Their run came to an end against the eventual-champion Pirates, 3-0.
Soccer was always Holben’s first love. Her father played at Lehigh University, and she grew up watching her two older brothers, Shaun and Collin, play the sport as well. Naturally, she followed suit and fell in love.
“This past soccer season went well,” Holben said. “Individually you always feel like you can do more, but I was pretty satisfied overall. As a team, we fell a couple of games short of our ultimate goals.”
What made it her most memorable season is the fact she got to play alongside her good friend, Rylee Donaldson, for the final time.
“Rylee and I started playing together when we were four, so growing up together made it easy to play with one another,” Holben said. “We always know where each other were on the field, and we understand the way we each play. We pushed each other to be the best players we could be, and I’m really going to miss being on the field with her.”
Her season culminated with 17 goals scored and 10 assists, despite being called upon to play in the midfield due to some team injuries.
“Erica sacrificed some stats this year,” Salisbury girls soccer head coach Rick Babyak said. “She is a natural goal-scoring forward. But as injuries occurred this season, we would have to drop her back to center-mid where she was very good at keeping things under control.”
Holben was still named a Colonial League First-Team All-Star. She leaves Salisbury seventh on the all-time assists list (27) and ninth all-time in both goals scored (37) and total points (101).
In between soccer and track and field, Holben stayed in shape by playing basketball, a sport she started at age 10. A number of unfortunate injuries, however, left the Lady Falcons a bit short on their season goals.
“Basketball season did not go as everyone would have liked it to go,” Holben said. “Our team suffered from many unfortunate injuries, but no matter what we tried to go out on the court and have fun.”
As a forward under basketball head coach Dan Reichenbach, Holben was named a captain and averaged 5.7 points and six rebounds per game. She was also named a Via All-Star.
Holben will attend Temple University in the fall, but will not focus on athletics anymore once college starts. She will instead focus her time on academics, as she plans on majoring in psychology.