Lakewood High School boys basketball players and fans can breathe easier.
With issues concerning his camp resolved, Randy Holmes, the Piners’ beloved head coach, will pilot the team in 2016-17, the former Lakewood standout said Thursday night.
“Parameters needed to be worked out,” he said. “How the camp should be run was worked out. The number of how many Lakewood kids will be there was worked out. What if things had not been worked out? I really can’t say as things were worked out. Who knows? The community of Lakewood supported me and I am very appreciate of that.”
Holmes, who resigned May 9, said the parameters were worked out May 24 at a meeting with he and school officials. He said he met with Superintendent of Schools Laura A. Winters, a board of education monitor, Dr. Michael Rush, chairman of Omega 13, and Thomas Ross Jr., director of the Lakewood Community Center and a member of Omega 13.
Holmes rescinded his resignation May 11, pending the outcome of the May 24 meeting. At a meeting of the Lakewood Board of Education on May 11, the governing body refused to accept Holmes’ resignation and instead asked the administration to sit down with Holmes to try to work out a solution that would address the concerns of both sides. Later in the meeting, Holmes received loud applause from the audience when he announced he was withdrawing his resignation.
“The situation has been resolved and everything is back to normal,” Holmes said. “The last few weeks have been mentally and emotionally draining for myself. I did not want it to come to this point, but I am very relieved that all parties agreed on the circumstances of the camp. I am happy to be back and happy that things are back to normal.”
Holmes, 42, owns a 211-54 record through 10 seasons at Lakewood. He has guided the Piners to two NJSIAA sectional championships, one Shore Conference Tournament title and nine Shore Conference outright divisional crowns. Lakewood has won six straight divisional championships. Holmes’ 2015-16 team was 21-7. A 45-game Class B South winning streak was snapped by Manchester on Jan 19.
Holmes’ resignation sparked an outcry from the Facebook community, which hoped for his return.
“What this shows me is that basketball is king in Lakewood,” he said. “Everyone came out and supported what was right in the community and got behind the basketball program and myself. It was overwhelming for me. Old Lakewood … new Lakewood … middle Lakewood … but Lakewood really did come out and support the cause.”
News of the resignation spread all the way to New Orleans, home of Jack Ardon, whose father, Jack, scored more than 2,000 career varsity points for the Piners before dying many years ago. The elder Ardon attended Tulane, located in New Orleans.
“It’s very interesting that one of the guys who supported me was Jack Ardon’s son,” Holmes said. “He caught wind of what was going on all the way down there and I was like, ‘Wow.’ I did not think it was that big of a deal, but I guess it was.”
The camp, known as the Coach Randy Holmes Basketball Camp, will take place at Lakewood High School from July 27-30), July 18-21, July 25-28, Aug. 8-11 and Aug 15-18. It will be for boys and girls in grades 2-12 (grades as of September). The camp will enter its ninth season
“Each session should have about 35-50 kids,” said Holmes, a special education teacher and a handler of inschool suspensions at Lakewood High School. “I don’t want it to be a warehouse. I am all about instructing and giving attention to the players and allowing them to receive as many repetitions and drills as possible. I would like to make money off the camp, but I don’t run it to make money. My coaching staff helps me run it so that we stay sharp in our coaching. We use the camp as another part of our feeder system.”
Among the instructors is former Lakewood star J.R. Smith, a key member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Holmes, who mentored Smith during his early days in the NBA, said Smith will return to the camp this year on a date to be determined.
“He has appeared each year,” Holmes said. “He came to either our fourth or fifth session last year and we had an amazing turnout. The kids were excited to see him and he was excited to be there. Not too many young players get to see an NBA player. People got the chance to touch and feel him and communicate with him. They realize that he played on that particular court. He gives kids hope–that if he can do it, they can do it.
“He explains to our campers what it takes to be a good athlete in general–the discipline you have to have and how he has sacrificed a lot.”
Holmes said Smith signs autographs at the camp.
“It was very moving last year when he spoke with the campers and played one-on-one with five or six young players,” Holmes said. “He loves the kids. Once he sat down in a chair, he signed for 45 minutes until he signed for everyone. He also posed for pictures.”
Holmes will likely produce another championship team in 2016-17.
“We have nine players returning from last year’s team,” he said. “We should have a pretty good team. We just have to put the work in. Looking back at it in hindsight, this was an embarrassing situation. I don’t think it should have gotten this big with this much publicity. I am thankful we worked it out.”
Holmes, a guard who scored more than 1,000 career varsity points for the Piners, led Lakewood to the Shore Conference Tournament title in 1991. He coached at Lakewood as an assistant under John Richardson and replaced Richardson after Richardson’s retirement. Lakewood’s gym was named for Richardson. Holmes, who excelled for Richardson as a player, sparkled for St. Peter’s College (now St. Peter’s University) under then-coach Ted Fiore.