All your favorite teams and sources in one place

Build your feed

Your Teams.
All Sources.

Build your feed

© 2024 BVM Sports. Best Version Media, LLC.

No results found.
Jalen Holley brings remarkable poise to UW-Whitewater soccer
Jalen Holley (left) has developed his game and ethics through years of dedicated work in soccer and plans on furthering his passion through and beyond college. (Courtesy: Jalen Holley)

Jalen Holley brings remarkable poise to UW-Whitewater soccer

WHITEWATER, Wis. (BVM) – For too many student-athletes in 2020, soccer is an afterthought. For University of Wisconsin-Whitewater junior Jalen Holley, however, the beautiful game is an enduring passion.

“Growing up, I played soccer, wrestling, basketball and I ran track as well,” Holley said.

However, soccer provided the most significant appeal.

“The moment I knew that soccer was my favorite sport was my senior year in high school [at Wauwatosa East],” Holley added.

Wauwatosa East’s success in Holley’s final campaign fueled a lifelong love.

“We had a solid team that year, and I had the most fun I have ever had playing soccer,” Holley said. “My teammates and I got along very well, and there were just positive vibes throughout the entire squad.”

Throughout his career, Holley continues to develop emotionally and ethically through his craft.

“The values that I have learned through soccer will stick with me for the rest of my life,” Holley said. “My [Wauwatosa East] head coach Eric Dale always preached to be humble and to respect your opponents.”

Holley’s actions reflect Dale’s advice.

“For example, when I would score goals, I would act as if I have done it before,” Holley added. “There was no reason to do celebrations that professionals do. We would give our teammates hugs and high-fives and do it again.”

East finished the regular season 13-5-4 before Holley’s last push towards state. Holley worked for more than his essential responsibilities, earning first-team all-conference and all-state honors. The Raiders eased past Whitnall, 7-1, and New Berlin Eisenhower, 5-1, to reach the sectional final — one stop short of state.

However, the Raiders fell, 5-0. Nevertheless, the loss did not deter Holley’s passion, and soccer guided his college choice.

“I decided to go to Whitewater because I thought it was my best chance of playing college soccer,” Holley said. “I did not know much about the soccer program, but I knew that the UW-Whitewater men’s soccer team usually makes the NCAA Tournament. That intrigued me because I wanted to play against tough competition.”

Unfortunately, Holley encountered adversity right off the opening kick in college.

“My largest frustration about my college career is definitely getting a red card in my first college game ever,” Holley said. “I was the first person to come off the bench in that game and was very excited to get on the field for the first time.”

His excitement quickly turned to disappointment.

“My coach told me to go out and give 110%, and that is what I did,” Holley continued. “After the red card, some of my confidence was diminished, and then I found myself not receiving the minutes that I wanted in games. I had to earn the trust of my coach back.”

Holley enjoyed considerable success in his sophomore season. He recorded four goals, tied for third on the team and tied for 16th in the conference. Whitewater finished 14-4-1 in the regular season before a memorable tournament victory.

“One of my favorite memories is going to Boston and winning the conference tournament last year,” Holley said. “We flew out as a team and just had a great time enjoying the city.”

The Warhawks defeated Finlandia University, 7-2, in the American Collegiate Athletic Association conference semifinals before battling the University of California-Santa Cruz. The schools tied 2-2, forcing penalty kicks. After winning the PKs, 4-2, Whitewater earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament, fulfilling Holley’s aspiration.

The Warhawks slipped with a 1-0 loss in the first round against Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Mich. However, the Warhawks seemed poise to build momentum for this season.

Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Whitewater canceled its 2020 season. With the cancelation, Holley now faces an uncertain future.

“I am not 100% sure about my soccer career right now due to the cancellation of the season,” Holley said. “We are currently practicing during the fall, but we are not able to play against any other teams. Right now, I am currently on pace to graduate in four years, so I have thought about taking a semester off. That way, I could use my last year of eligibility.”

Although he does not know what the future holds, Holley’s future career is how, not if.

“I will always continue to play the beautiful game for the rest of my life,” Holley said. “I do not plan on playing professionally, but I plan on playing in men’s leagues later in my life. I always have fun on the pitch; it is a great way for me to relieve stress.”