Coach Bill Holbrook

Bill Holbrook was born in Three Rivers, TX in 1924. He was one of twelve kids and grew up loving to hunt and fish. Holbrook married his wife, Mary, at the age of 18 just prior to leaving for WWII. During the war he participated in two drops behind enemy lines, with one being Operation Varsity in March of 1945. In one of the drops he was one of three to survive out of 27 soldiers in his unit.

By the end of the war he was a member of General Eisenhower’s Honor Guard and played for Eisenhower’s 82nd Airborne Red Devils as the only high school player on the team, where he was selected as an All-Star tight end. Holbrook scored a touchdown in the championship game versus General Patton’s team, which the Red Devils ended up winning.

Upon returning home from the war Holbrook enrolled at SMU and then transferred to the University of Tulsa to play football on scholarship. After graduating from TU Holbrook moved to Bartlesville to become the line coach for the 1950 College High Wildcat team, coached by Burl Stidham. Coach Holbrook was an assistant under Stidham for 12 of his 14 years as head coach. During that time frame he coached track and other sports as needed. Holbrook took over as head coach in the 1962 season and held that position until 1966 when he left to take over as both head football coach and athletic director for the new high school in town, Sooner High. Coach stayed in this role at Sooner for ten years before “retiring” from coaching in 1976. Following his brief retirement Holbrook moved back to College High where he was an assistant defensive coach for the 1977 and 1978 seasons.

Holbrook was influential in other sports in Bartlesville as well. In 1962 Coach Holbrook started Bartlesville’s wrestling program and by 1965 his team took first place at the distinguished Tulsa Edison tournament. Holbrook brought in OSU head wrestling coach Myron Roderick to speak in order to help garner support for the new program.

Holbrook moved to Leakey, TX after coaching for 28 years in Bartlesville, where he coached football for another ten years at Rocksprings High School. During his time in Bartlesville he received the honor of the Oklahoma 7 Conference Coach of the Year in 1963 and in 1968, as the head coach of Sooner High, he was the Magic Empire Conference Coach of the Year. He had ten players named to the first and second team All-Star rosters. In 1969 he was selected to coach the special teams unit in the Oil Bowl, where the Oklahoma All-Staters defeated the Texas All-Staters for the first time in many years.

Coach Holbrook had a positive influence on countless individuals during his time in Bartlesville. His wife of 72 years passed away eight years ago. He is currently 98 years old and still resides in the Texas hill country, just west of San Antonio.

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