By Danny Brewer
Called home on November 21, 2023, Donnie Holland leaves behind a strong legacy. Always a great competitor, this 1968 graduate of Smyrna High School always strived to be the best whether it was on the football field, as a teacher and coach, a fisherman, golfer, softball player, husband, father, or grandfather. His will to win in the game of life produced success for him and all those who surrounded him.
“Very proud to call this hall of Famer my friend- Donald Holland a tackling machine!!! Congrats”
The legend of Donnie Holland began in earnest when he stepped onto the football field at Smyrna High School. Truly a monster of the midway, his punishing style of play as a fullback and linebacker left an indelible mark on his teammates and opponents in pain. His hulking physique was impressive, but his heart and desire were even more admirable.
“Donnie Holland is the best all-around football player I ever coached”, says Smyrna High School icon Robert “Bud” Raikes. “I played football for Donnie’s dad (Dean) at Smyrna so we have had a long-standing relationship. He always told me he loved me and I feel the same for him. He was a really good man.”
After leading one of the best teams ever at “old” Smyrna High School, Holland enjoyed a decorated career as an educator in Rutherford County. A positive influence on many young people, Holland’s hard-driving style helped the Eagleville school girl’s basketball teams reach lofty heights. Later he played a role in the resurgence of Smyrna High football under Philip Shadowens.
Donnie Holland is a man who will be remembered and missed by many. Enshrined in the Smyrna High School Athletic Hall of Fame, his name will always be synonymous with Smyrna success. Drive, determination, and desire defined him. Current and future Bulldogs can look to him as a shining example of what one the wears the purple and gold is supposed to be.
Rest in Peace and God Bless Donnie Holland