INDEPENDENCE — Baseball has always been an integral part of Kyle Holt’s life.
“I’ve had a bat and ball in my hand for as long as I can remember,” said the senior from Central High School. “Ever since I could walk, if I am being honest. I joined my first team at the age of three and have played every year since then except my freshman year due to an injury.”
After healing from a shattered growth plate in his elbow, Holt joined the Panthers baseball team his sophomore year, establishing himself right away as a crucial part of the team.
“Kyle would have been a 3-year starter for me,” said head Panthers coach Tom Roberts. “He started in right field both as a sophomore and as a junior, and would have been my starting right fielder. He has put in a tremendous amount of work this offseason and I know he would have been one of the better center fielders in the state, both defensively and offensively.”
Like other senior student-athletes around the nation, Holt won’t be able to finish out his final high school season of baseball.
“I was very disappointed when I found out my final baseball season as a Panther wasn’t going to happen,” Holt said. “I feel as if I put in a lot of work this off season and I no longer have the opportunity to showcase the results. I was also very excited to see what we could have done as a team.” Last year, the Panthers were crowned the Oregon Schools Activities Association 5A state champions — an accomplishment that hadn’t happened since the school switched over to 5A from it’s 4A classification.
Hoping to repeat last year’s victories was on the team’s mind as they came back for this season.
“I would have liked to repeat the success from last year because we accomplished a lot,” Holt said. “I know we lost a lot of talent from last year, and considering we have a lot of new inexperienced varsity players, a big role was needing to be filled and I was up for the challenge.”
Roberts was also looking for Holt to fill that role.
“He was poised to be our captain this year,” Roberts said. “He is a quiet kid, but is very competitive and wants to win.”
Holt missed out on his final season as a Panther, but baseball will still be in his future.
“I have decided to go the junior college route and then plan to transfer to a 4-year university, but more than likely I will start off my journey at Chemeketa,” Holt said. He plans on entering the medical field.
“I aspire to become a radiologist, but no matter what, I want to be involved in the medical field one way or another,” he said. “If radiology doesn’t work out, I will most likely do something with sports medicine.”
If Holt had to choose one athlete that has inspired him in his baseball career, it would be Ken Griffey Jr., who spent most of his career with the Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds.
“Watching Ken Griffey Jr. play on TV was mind blowing to me as a kid,” Holt said. “Watching him make crazy catches and play with the type of swagger he had never failed to entertain me.”
His parents were on the list of people he looks up to, as well. “They have done so much for me,” he said. “My dad and I put in countless hours of practice outside of my regular team practices, and has definitely sparked the passion for the game within me. I also look up to my mom because she has been very supportive of me and pushed me to go hard everyday, as well as make sure I got to practices on time and made every game, not to mention she also took care of my injuries and I am very appreciative of her for that.”
He’s looking forward to the next step, but he’s sad he didn’t get to finish out what he had started.
“I am definitely going to miss the relationships the coaches and I have made,” Holt said, “as well as the bonds formed between my teammates and me.”