Athlete of the Month: Lisa Holombo

Lisa during her time at Saint Martin's University
Lisa during her time at Saint Martin’s University

Name: Lisa Holombo
Hometown/Currently Living: Auburn, WA
Age: 27
Main Sport, How Long Competed: Softball, 13 years
Position: Third base, shortstop, first base, and pitcher. I was recruited as a shortstop for college.
Where Played: Sumner Senior High School (4A), Western New Mexico University (NCAA II), Saint Martin’s University (NCAA II)
College & Degree: Saint Martin’s University, BA in Psychology
Current Occupation: Pre-School Teacher
Favorite Healthy Food: Sweet potatoes
Favorite Physical Activity: Lifting weights
Biggest Sport Honor: Gatorade Player of the Year (HS junior), Seattle PI featured as MVP All Star (HS senior)

Photo taken for the Seattle PI All Star award in 2005

How old were you when you started playing sports or exercising?
3 years old. I started soccer and gymnastics early.

How old were you when you started playing your main sport?
8 years old.

Did you have support from friends and family throughout your journey?
Oh yeah. Definitely. My dad was my coach up until I was 16, and practically all the friends I had were on the softball team.

How do you view your health throughout your athletic career?
I was really healthy. I had a fast metabolism. Did I eat the best? No. But I was so active it didn’t really matter.

Who was your favorite coach, and what qualities did they possess?
Lance Glasoe – he was my high school coach and he later went on to be University of Washington pitching coach. Now he is the head coach for Pacific Lutheran University. He is like a second dad to me. He treated me as an equal. He asked my opinion on plays and he never made me feel like it was a “do or die.” It was very relaxed and he had confidence in me that I could do the job. He only came out to the mound to talk to me one time my senior year. I’ll always remember what he said, “I know you’re doing fine out here, I’m just giving you a break. You got this.”

What issues did you have with your least favorite coach?
She was really immature. She knew how to play, but she didn’t know how to coach or teach it. She wasn’t flexible, and her moral compass did not point north.

Were you ever provided with nutritional information during your athletic career (childhood, high school, college)?
My dad was always trying to have me eat healthier, especially before tournaments. I knew candy and sugar wasn’t going to get me through a game. Every once in awhile my mom would slip me a maple bar to the dug out. In college, we were not provided with much information. Our coach tried to put us on a diet, and wouldn’t let us drink pop or eat sweets—but we would always sneak it. There was never any nutritional information given for why we were on the diet. My dad was the most informative about that since he was a body builder. He taught me I needed protein and carbs, and to stay off the junk.

Were you ever provided with exercise information, other than for your sport, during your athletic career (childhood, high school, college)?
Yeah, beginning when I was 12. We had a home gym so our garage was full of equipment—leg extension/curls, pull down, free weights, squat rack, medicine balls, leg press—we had everything at our disposal. Dad put me on a circuit training regiment when I was 12. We would go out in the yard and run in sand and do plyos. He would cut down trees and make box jumps. That was my childhood—working out. I would have friends come over and do it with me, but usually it was just me and Dad out there—3 sets of 10, 3 sets of 10.

In high school, my coach enrolled me in weights class. I didn’t have a choice my senior year. So I got that education, and it made me work out every day.

At Western New Mexico, our coach was very into long distance running and weight lifting and showed me new lifts that I had never done before. Like Olympic lifting. He was also very into yoga, and we would do that as a team. He would work out with us, which was cool. He wasn’t just standing there and barking out words.

At Saint Martin’s, I think we were in the weight room 10 times out of the 3.5 years I was there. It was pathetic. I was even put in charge of running the team’s ab workout.

Do you feel like this information helped you after you finished competing in your sport?
Yes, I can walk into a gym and put together a circuit workout no problem. Do I have the motivation? Maybe not, because its not mandatory anymore. That’s the most difficult part.

How did you feel about your sport immediately after you were no longer competing?
I hated it. I didn’t touch a softball for four years after college. I was so burnt out and tired of it.

How do you feel about your sport now?
Now that I’m on the other side and coaching, it is a lot different. It is fun again, and I find myself wanting to hit a couple buckets and take ground balls. I do it because I want to. Showing girls proper mechanics and getting to hang out with girls who are passionate about it again is really fun.

How did you feel about your overall health immediately after you were no longer competing?
For the most part I was OK, but I definitely noticed my diet needed some work, because when I was going through college I could eat everything I wanted and maintain the same weight. But now that I’m not working out so much and doing two-a-days, I noticed I started to gain weight.

How do you feel about your overall health now?
Now I’m getting to a place where my life is stable. I have a good job, my own place—now I can finally focus on getting my body back in the shape it once was. I know it will never be where it was when I was 17 because all I did was work out and I didn’t have any other responsibilities, but I know I can get close if I really focus.

What is your current exercise regiment? Are there any activities you can no longer do?
There are no activities I can’t do any more. I don’t pitch very much anymore because it is painful. My body isn’t used to it any more. I go to the gym, I used to do Crossfit, so I’ll check their workouts so I can do them at the gym on my own. I’m working toward building up my cardio because it has always been difficult for me. I’ve never liked running, but I want to change that about myself. I want to be able to go on a run and not die. I decided to do one 5k per month this year, and I’m going to try to beat my time each time. Starting out slow, and working my way up to get me back into the rhythm and keep me accountable.

Did you sustain any serious injuries during your career that greatly affected your life then, and may affect you now?
I had a major back injury when I was in New Mexico—it happened during our third practice. I was doing yoga and I strained the soft tissue around my spine. I’ve had back issues since I was young because I had an issue when I was 9-years-old (stinger). That put me out of commission for awhle. It is still difficult to do some movements, such as yoga. I have to be really careful with that. Every once in awhile if I bend a certain way or stand up to fast I can tweak it. The pain can last a couple hours or days.

How would you describe your current diet?
I’ve tried to stick mostly to protein and vegetables. But at my job (I get fed at school), I have to eat with the children, and they have macaroni and cheese and tater tots. It isn’t good for you, but it fills you up—it’s geared for the kids. I try to bring my own lunch and minimize eating there, but my vice is sweets. I have a major sweet tooth. I try not to keep sweets in the house. My favorite thing right now is roasted vegetables. I will buy them in bulk, especially sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and broccoli, throw some olive oil on them and throw them in the oven. That fills me up, which helps.

Do you include anything in your routine for “mental” health? (i.e. meditation, affirmations, playing logic games)
I have some pictures in my bathroom that are affirmations. I see those in the morning and they bring positivity to my day. My meditation is zoning out and watching TV. When I get home from school I want to decompress and relax. Every once in awhile I use this app for meditation, so I’ve been trying to get into that. I have a really hard time calming my mind at night, but I listen to the app and it relaxes me and puts me to sleep almost immediately.

Do you feel like your job allows you to have a good work/life balance?
Yes – I don’t take my work home with me. We only have kids Monday through Thursday, and we plan on Friday, so I get everything done on that day. I keep everything pretty separate. That’s the way I like it.

If you could give advice to your younger self about your sport, what would you say?
Listen to Dad. He knows what he is doing and he is doing this for a reason. Go pitch.

Any last comments or advice?
Go at your own pace. You can’t look at pictures on instagram and facebook at girls ripped out of their minds, and expect to get there in a month. I have a hard time with that. Growing up with body builder dad, I expect to bounce back quicker. But it doesn’t work that way. It’s gradual. That is why I’m doing the 5k per month for a year so it is manageable and I can do it at my own pace, but it is still something I can accomplish and feel good about.

Lisa participating in the 2013 Tough Mudder


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