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Holmes helps students spike their problems

September 18, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer

Bob Holmes, a New Hampshire man who combines his extraordinary volleyball talents with a sobering message about how to face odds in life, visited students at three Washington County schools Wednesday.

Holmes is so good at volleyball he doesn't need anyone to help him. Holmes and his "One Man Volleyball Team" have defeated teams put up by big-name football teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins and the Washington Redskins. He once defeated a U.S. Olympic player in a one-on-one game.

Even though he is able to get away with hitting the ball more than once, his lightning serves and spikes marvel spectators.

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Holmes's first stop Wednesday morning was E. Russell Hicks Middle School, where he defeated the school's faculty team 15-7. He had the school's 7th grade class screaming in his favor after he promised them they would not have any homework that night if he won.

With the students' attention clearly in Holmes' control after his win, he launched into his lecture about how to avoid pitfalls in life.

Holmes told students they can beat the odds in life if they follow three rules: Never quit, don't use drugs and always look ahead.

Holmes illustrated his rule about never quitting by telling the students that about 20,000 students committed suicide last year in the country. Holmes told E. Russell Hicks students about children he has seen with cuts on their arms as a result of suicide attempts.

Holmes said he has been encouraged by some volleyball pros to try out for the Olympics because of his talents, but he said he would rather get his message out.

Holmes said that after one of his talks about suicide, a student came up to him and said he had just tried taking his life that morning. The youth, who had razor marks on his arm, vowed to Holmes he would never try to commit suicide again.

"I left that, and I said, it's worth every ounce of sweat," said Holmes.

Holmes' beginning in the sport started as an attempt to get in shape. He said his back had been bothering him, and he played a game of one-on-one with a friend in New Hampshire as a way to loosen up and shed some pounds.

Since then, Holmes has visited 3,000 schools across the country delivering his message. His record stands at 8,600 wins and 163 losses.

Holmes also visited Western Heights Middle School and Clear Spring High School Wednesday. He played against various local and celebrity volleyball teams at Hagerstown Junior College Wednesday night.

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