‘Will power:' Sam Houston State player stays on course despite broken foot

Sam Houston State Athletics

‘Will power:' Sam Houston State player stays on course despite broken foot

College

‘Will power:' Sam Houston State player stays on course despite broken foot

One moment, Will Holcomb was walking down the aisle. The next, he could barely move.

What started as a devastating injury has turned into an inspiring story of grit and determination.

Holcomb, a sophomore golfer at Sam Houston State, married his high school sweetheart, Graycie, Aug. 5 in his hometown of Crockett, Texas. Following the ceremony, Holcomb celebrated with a reception for family and friends at his house. The party went late into the evening.

Then came the misstep.

“I was standing on the dance floor – I wasn’t even dancing – and I took a step,” Holcomb said. “All of my weight was on my right foot and I just felt something give way. I didn’t know what it was.”

When he woke up the next morning and hobbled out of bed, he knew something was seriously wrong. Instead of leaving for Corpus Christi to go on their honeymoon, Will and Graycie drove to Hunstville, Texas, to see a trainer at Sam Houston State. Will was then sent to a doctor, who diagnosed him with a non-displaced fracture of the fourth metatarsal in his right foot.

“I was devastated,” said Holcomb, who was given a walking boot and crutches.

An orthopedic in Lufkin, Texas, provided the same diagnosis, with an expected recovery time of a month. That was when Holcomb asked if he could still play golf.

“He said, ‘I would recommend doing everything in the boot and do it through the heel,’” Holcomb said.

That was all Holcomb needed. After getting back from their honeymoon, he went the same afternoon to Spring Creek Country Club, a nine-hole course in Crockett. He shot 5-over 40.

“I couldn’t get through the ball and had no control,” Holcomb said.

A couple of days later, he was on the range in Huntsville with Sam Houston State head coach Brandt Kieschnick.

“I hit a couple shots and just started turning as hard as I could left and got all my weight to my left side,” Holcomb said. “And I started hitting it good.”

Said Kieschnick: “It was just inspiring to me when he said, ‘Coach, I’m going to figure out how to do this.’ And he found out how.”

The next day Holcomb returned to Crockett and teed it up again at Spring Creek. This time, he shot 29, missing a 4-footer on his ninth hole for 28. He finished 18 holes at 9 under.

More than two months after the injury, Holcomb has played in each of Sam Houston State’s first three fall tournaments. He was T-4 at the Sam Hall Invitational, T-18 at the Ram Masters Invitational and T-11 at the Bayou City Collegiate, all while posting a 71.11 scoring average.

“This is just who this kid is,” Kieschnick said. “He just has a Navy SEAL mentality. He was going to play golf, broken foot or not. He was going to figure it out.”

Holcomb said the injury has been a blessing in disguise.

“It made me use my head a lot more,” Holcomb said. “Last year, I was just a wild horse; I’m not thinking, I’m just running. … When I first started playing in my boot, I had a few misses and I knew what caused the misses, and so I could use that to analyze shots in the middle of a round if I hit some errant shots. I figured out how to minimize mistakes.

“I learned more about my golf swing and myself.”

While Holcomb may have prolonged his recovery by playing in the boot (he does plan to shut it down after the fall to give his foot time to heal), he has earned widespread admiration for his resiliency. Kieschnick said several coaches have come up to him in awe of Holcomb’s strength and determination.

“It’s refreshing in this day and age that he’s finding an excuse to try and win rather than blame something else,” Kieschnick said. “As coaches, we’re trying to make these college golfers own what they have, and just compete at a high level and don’t let anything get in their way. And you’re seeing that in a tangible way – guy’s walking 36, and I’m watching him outside the boot and it hurts when he walks. But he’s an ultra-competitor, he wants to win, he works harder than anybody, he’s got the greatest desire to be great.

“Once the boot comes off, I don’t think anything’s going to change.”

No, Holcomb will still be one tough kid with a heck of a testimony.

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