Hollcraft decided to stay in his hometown for college and play two sports rather than just one.
Aaron Hollcraft - Junior basketball and baseball player at the University of Minnesota Crookston
CHS Class of 2015
Major – Elementary Education
Career Hopes – Teach either kindergarten or first grade
Other CHS Sports - Football
How did you decide to play two sports collegiately?
I always wanted to play college basketball since I was little. In high school, it was between basketball and baseball except I didn’t have any offers for basketball. By the end of my senior, I was undecided on what I wanted to do and it was down to UMC and somewhere else. UMC offered basketball and baseball so I decided to do that. I thought I might eventually pick just one, but I decided to stick it out with both.
Does playing two sports in college get to be difficult?
It gets a little bit much in the fall when I have both going on at the same time. Once the seasons start, I just stick to one. It’s never been too much and I never thought about dropping one.
What other schools were you considering?
It was between here and University of Mary.
Did the hometown aspect persuade you?
Not really, it was more about being able to play both sports. It is nice now, but it wasn’t a factor in my choice.
What was your biggest accomplishment in high school sports?
Being named captain my junior year of the basketball team. I though there were a lot of other players that it could’ve been. I was conference player of the year in baseball my sophomore year.
What is your biggest accomplishment in collegiate sports?
In baseball freshman and sophomore year, we made the playoffs. My freshman year was the first time the team made playoffs in UMC history.
Who was your favorite coach in high school?
Ted Hasz and Greg Garmen are the ones I’m closest with, but I have to say they’re all equal as my favorite.
What is something a coach said or did that has stuck with you?
Coach Garmen’s encouragement throughout my high school career helped. He always believed in me and that I could always do more. I’ve wanted to show that’s true.
What did you notice as a big difference between playing in high school and playing in college?
I’ve had to get much faster and stronger between high school and here. My shot and handle has improved in basketball. On defense, my one-on-one has gotten better. For baseball, I can’t just throw a fastball by guys anymore. I had to develop a changeup and a curveball, which is my best pitch.
What surprised you at your first college practice?
The first time I played basketball here was our first day of orientation. Some of the guys were back on campus and they had us play. We started at about 11pm and played until 2am and I threw up a bunch afterwards just because we played so much. That was my first experience with the higher level. I couldn’t guard very well and I wasn’t getting by guys. For baseball, again, I couldn’t throw pitches by guys and they were throwing balls by me.
Describe your daily routine while in season
For baseball, my schedule has been crazy with travel and weather and our schedule is always changing. I work at the Wellness Center too. So I get up, go to classes, go to practice and maybe work afterwards. Then I get a lift in at some point. Basketball is always at 3:30pm with Friday and Saturday games. Now with student teaching, I go into classrooms a few times a week. The fall is the hardest because I have both sports. We have baseball lifts at 5 a.m. and then I have class afterwards. Then I’d have conditioning for basketball. Sometimes, I’d miss basketball for baseball so I’d have to get some shots afterwards. At the most I’d go from five to nine at night.
What is your trick to keep up with classwork and stay consistent in your game?
I like to say I have good time management skills, but I don’t. I get up early and go to sleep really late. With my job at the Wellness Center, it’s pretty slow sometimes so I can do a lot of my homework there. Then I take every opportunity to get a little nap in.
Does playing a sport help you manage your time?
I think it does. There’s no room for doing anything else that would distract me. I don’t mind it and I’ve come to actually like it.
How do you handle the pressure of playing collegiately?
You have to still think of it as a game. In baseball, I’ve been put in some pretty big situations on the mound. My first two years I felt the pressure, but not so much now. I’m just thinking of it like I should be having fun and being a little kid.
What do you miss about playing in Crookston?
Probably the fans. We had the gym packed my junior and senior year.
How has playing collegiately helped you prepare for life after school and sports?
It’s helped a lot with the leadership aspect. I came in as a follower and now I have to grow into a leader. It helps with teamwork especially when I’m a teacher. It’s not easy so I’ve learned to preserver and push through. Sometimes, I don’t get the playing time I want in basketball, so persevering there. Sports in general is just character building.
How do you plan to stay around the game after college?
I could see myself coaching basketball.
When your college career comes to an end, do you think you'll be mentally ready?
Yes I do. I think I’ve been through a lot during my years here, with school, sports and life in general. I feel like there’s not many situations that I won’t be ready for.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about playing a sport in college?
If it’s something they want, then they should go for it at least and try it. There’s quite a few people who come and don’t stick it out. It’s always going to surprise you regardless of the level. It’s going to surprise you how good everyone is. That summer between senior year and first day of college is going to be the biggest part of your life for getting in shape, stronger and faster. Even if it’s not want you wanted, it’s still college sports.