Coach James Holan
For a California native, James Holan is well-schooled on Oregon high school football.
He first got acquainted with it during his playing days at Linfield College, where he was a starting guard on the 2004 national championship team. And as an assistant at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia the last two seasons, he recruited Oregon players.
Holan played in a struggling high school program at Tamalpais (Calif.) in the Bay Area before being immersed in Linfield’s winning culture, which shaped much of his coaching philosophy.
“Going from a brutal situation in high school to Linfield, it was really eye-opening for me,” he said. “My biggest goal has always been to give kids a way better experience than I had in high school. That they would have a coach that was involved, a coach that cared, you know, somebody that was holding them accountable.”
After graduating from Linfield, Holan worked as an offensive line coach at College of Marin in the Bay Area for one season, then landed at Mission Hills High School in San Diego County, where he served as offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. In his four seasons at Mission Hills, the team went to two state finals and lost in the semifinals twice.
He returned to the Bay Area to coach at Piedmont High School, serving as defensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014 and head coach from 2015 to 2017.
During his time at Piedmont, the Highlanders reached the state semifinals twice (2014, 2016) and quarterfinals twice (2015, 2017). He compiled a 24-13 record as the coach.
“We had a tremendous run, for that school, especially,” Holan said. “They were always kind of a middle-of-the-road team, and we were able to get the culture going in the right direction.”
Holan moved to Simon Fraser in 2018 when Thomas Ford, a former Linfield teammate, was hired as the head coach and offered him a spot on the staff. Holan was the offensive coordinator for two seasons.
With Holan and his wife, Ashlee, expecting their first child this month, he sought a return to high school coaching. And with their ties to Oregon – Ashlee is from California but went to the University of Oregon and has relatives in the Portland area – he began to pursue job openings in the state.
“The decision to come back down to high school was a lot about family for me,” Holan said. “I can’t see myself having the newborn and being on the road for eight, nine weeks during the offseason. It was a big family decision.”
Junior Varsity Staff