SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Longtime Chatham County Commissioner James “Coach” Holmes has died after his fight with COVID-19. Holmes died early Monday morning after being hospitalized for 17 days. News 3 heard from those he’s had an impact on at the Frank Callen Boys & Girls Club.
They say he was a coach, mentor and some called him a “true legend.” At the age of four 51 years ago Michael Hamilton met Coach Holmes on the basketball court where he taught him how to dribble a basketball.
“He was a true legend,” Hamilton said.
Now Hamilton is coming to grips with the fact that Coach Holmes will never step back on the court with him again.
“It was like I lost my father, matter of fact I’m still crying inside. I shed some tears because it’s a hurtful thing. He was a coach that demanded the best out of you. If he couldn’t get 100 percent out of you then you aren’t going to be on Coach Holmes’ team,” Project Director for the Frank Callen’s Boys & Girls Club, Michael Hamilton said.
The Frank Callen Boys & Girls Club was Coach’s life. He was at the forefront of caring for Chatham County’s children. Now Hamilton is following in Coach’s footsteps becoming the program director where Coach held that same position.
“He would always come and talk to me and he would give me some good advice and also pat me on the back and say ‘man you’re doing a wonderful job’ and just hearing that from him says a whole lot because his standards are high,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton isn’t alone when he says many people looked up to Coach Holmes. Executive Director at the Boys & Girls Club Vincent DelMonte said when he heard the news Monday morning he couldn’t believe it knowing how healthy of a guy he was.
“When the news came across Monday it was devastating. We’re all heartbroken,” DelMonte said.
DelMonte remembers Coach for his mentorship. He says his dedication to children has left a lasting impact for generations to come.
“We’ll do everything to make sure that his memory continues and we’re doing the work in his name as well. His heart was there for the kids,” DelMonte said.
Coach Holmes joined the Frank Callen Boys & Girls Club staff in 1960. He was then inducted into the hall of fame in 2018.