New Wentzville Holt football coach Ethan Place has had quite a busy and accomplished life since graduating from the school back in 2001.
And this fall, he will use those life experiences to take charge of the program in which he played quarterback for three years. After high school, Place served his country as a Marine from 2001-2005 and was a decorated sniper, who served overseas in Fallujah, Iraq.
After leaving the Marines in 2005, Place found himself back in Wentzville on the sidelines as a quarterbacks coach and and offensive coordinator. It was during those six seasons that Holt Athletic Director Ben Hebisen got to see firsthand that Place had the potential to be a head coach.
“Ethan has a great football mind, and the way he relates to these players is just outstanding,” Hebisen said. “He understands them and they relate to him very well and they respect him tremendously. You could see then that he had the makings of a really good head coach, so it is not a surprise that he is in this position now.”
Another experience that helped to prepare Place for the role of head coach was his stint in Joplin. Place coached in Joplin from 2011-2015 and was there when a tornado devastated the school and town.
“We got to Joplin in 2011 and the tornado hit that first year and the place was devastated,” Place said. “So, we stayed and helped the school rebuild – and to see that school and those people come back and be what it is now, it really puts life in perspective.”
Coming back to Holt, Place takes over a program that finished 2-8 in former coach Ken Moore’s last season. But he’s not concerned. In fact, he’s planning on keeping things simple.
“I think that coaches tend to make football complicated,” Place said. “At the end of the day, it really boils down to execution and being able to do fundamentals better than anybody else. Sniper training helps you see things from a different perspective and think outside of conventional methods and that can help in coaching football.”
Hebisen believes that Place’s military background and success could well translate into success on the gridiron.
“His dedication and bravery and character are qualities we want for our young men to have,” Hebisen said. “I know he will take what he has learned from his years in the military to help mentor and guide his players in how to be quality people on and off the field.”
Place, who has a nine-person staff, including five assistants who are Holt alums, said he has just a few simple goals for the upcoming season.
“We really just want try to excel in the fundamentals and get better each practice, each day and each week,” Place said. “It has really been a rough go around here the past couple years for these kids, so we’re trying to get the confidence back in them. I want them to know there are going to be ups and downs, but we want to improve and get better in everything we do each day.”
– Jonathan Duncan