Ms. Holmes is Making History


Ms. Holmes during the 2023 signing day

Sydney Kalish, Editor of Student Life

Many know Ms. Holmes. Her endlessly positive attitude and encouraging personality make her hard to miss. But what many don’t know is that she is a long awaited piece of history for Cardinal Gibbons High School. This year, Ms. Tonya Holmes served as our first ever female athletic director, a title that she is the first woman to ever fill. 

As she reaches just over a year in this position, Holmes reflects on her impressive career and accomplishments. Through it all she demonstrates her unending dedication in her role and extends support for all young women making their way in the world through their sport. 

Ms. Holmes started out her career as the assistant athletic director at St. Mary’s school, an all girls boarding school in downtown Raleigh. At the same time she continued as the Volleyball coach at Triangle Volleyball club, a position that she still holds today. Early in her career she realized just how much of an impact sports have on the lives of students, young women especially. “It gave me this empowerment mentality,” Holmes said, “watching girls develop through sport.” 

Through her role Ms. Holmes stressed not only development on the field but the importance of developing leadership qualities. Wanting to pass on what sports taught her, she began to prioritize not only growing as an athlete but a person as well. “For me it developed that mental toughness, that persistence that I have today.” said Holmes. Her persistence and drive continued to grow over the years and not long after she began to move forward with her career. 

Following her stint at St. Mary’s, Holmes came to Gibbons five years ago as the girl’s volleyball coach and the Director of Student Engagement. From there she worked her way up the ranks, eventually becoming the Assistant Director of Athletics. Last year her dedication showed itself again and in January of 2022 Holmes became the first female Athletic Director at Gibbons, setting a milestone both for her and the school.

Ms. Holmes certainly has had an impressive career, if not always an easy one. In a world surrounded by men, normally she is the outlier. “It’s often me and 25 guys,” Holmes said, “and I know my capabilities are often challenged.” Despite this she is determined to hold her ground. “Never hesitate to speak up for yourself or anyone else.” Holmes says. Even if your ideas are questioned or your position is challenged, advocating for both you and others is always her policy.  

Holmes’s never ending mantra of positivity carries over into everything she does. She passes her love of coaching and helping students to everyone she comes in contact with and there is no question of her ability to lead. Holmes is here making history, and she asks everyone she can to come along with her. 

She leaves us with one piece of advice, written on her whiteboard for all to see; “Keep going.” Holmes says “On the hard days, keep going.”