Oct. 11, 1999
by Danny Harrington
UCLA Media Relations Intern
Pete Holland has prepared for this moment for some time. Since the days of roaming the sidelines as a youngster at his father's high school games to when he starred as a defensive and offensive lineman for Homestead High School in San Jose, he knew this day would eventually come. The day he walked off the football field - for good.
"I enjoy football, but I'm going to move on after I'm done here," says Holland without the slightest bit of hesitancy. "I know that's not a really common thing [to say] because so many guys want to play pro ball. In fact, it's kind of shocking to some people when they ask you and you say that, but I don't have the burning dream deep in my heart for it."
So what exactly is Holland's passion?
"If I could do anything, it would be to write fiction," says the fifth-year senior and six-time member of the UCLA Director's Honor Roll. "I think that would be the greatest job in the world."
However, with the Bruins' season in full swing, Holland will have to settle on just reading his favorite novels. The Los Angeles Daily News values his opinion so much, it has agreed to let him review a book a week, running every Friday in the sports section.
"I would have to say that Tom Wolfe is definitely one of my favorites," says the history major. "His book 'A Man in Full' was incredible. But I also enjoy reading work from (John) Steinbeck and Stephen Ambrose. 'East of Eden' is one of my favorites as well."
It doesn't take long to realize that with Holland, football is only a small part of who he is and what he represents. Then again, when you spend virtually your entire day surrounded by educators, some of it is bound to rub off.
"When I was growing up, my parents stressed academics a lot," says Holland. "My Mom is a grade school teacher and my Dad is a high school teacher, so they've always known that education is paramount and they raised me that way. They're both college graduates, so they've been a good example of where an education can take you."
In fact, Holland's father Bill stressed academics so much that, despite being a former collegiate player and high school coach, he never pressured his son to follow in his footsteps. So much so that Holland's first taste of organized football wasn't until the ninth grade.
"I've been around football ever since I was a kid," explains Holland. "But I never played youth ball or anything. My dad never pushed me to play, in fact, he's not a big proponent of it."
In spite of being somewhat of a late bloomer by football standards, Holland now finds himself as one of two team captains (Danny Farmer is the other) on a Bruin team aiming for its third straight Pac-10 title. He helped the Bruins to a Cotton Bowl victory over Texas A&M back in 1997 and was instrumental in UCLA's Rose Bowl run last season, despite having to miss the game with an elbow injury. The fact is, the Bruins own an impressive 14-4 record in games Holland has started.
Says UCLA defensive line coach Jethro Franklin, "He gives us probably the two things you need most - experience and leadership. What impresses me the most about him is that if he decides not to pursue his playing career any further than UCLA, he's definitely qualified himself from an educational standpoint to do anything he wants to do anyway."