Senior Spotlight: Ciera Holston
In this life, there are some who take predictable paths to get to predictable destinations. They know what they want from a young age, work toward that goal early, and get to where they’ve always wanted to be.
CofC javelin thrower Ciera Holston on the other hand was not blessed with a clear goal of where she’d end up. But with hard work and an open mind, she wound up getting where she always wanted to be in spite of that.
“My sister’s dad had this impressive track & field background with a lot of jump records, and my mom saw that and thought it was something I should get involved with,” Holston said.
As a second-grader, Holston’s mother entered Ciera into a cross country race called the Turkey Trot in her Phoenix, Ariz. She excelled in the run, and was moved on to club track & field over the summers.
Ciera took to track and field right away.
“I liked that everything was all on me. If my times got faster, it was easy to see that I was improving. In team sports like basketball, you have to look at things like matchups and whatnot. But in track, I ran what I ran and I jumped what I jumped, and that’s that.”
Ciera began to spread out into many different track events, and by the time she was in middle school, was competing in the hurdles and long jump. Her coaches wanted her to focus on sprints, but she wanted nothing to do with that. Eventually, her high school club coach approached her with a compromise…the multis.
“I had no idea what the multis were, and my coaches didn’t really explain it. They just threw me into them at my next meet.”
It was there that Ciera got her first taste of the throws. Little did she know she was competing in front of one of the bigger throws coaches in Arizona, Erwin Jones. He helped get her technique in line, and from there, Ciera was able to be introduced to the javelin.
“It was just so much fun; it was completely different than anything I had done before. As cliché as it sounds, I had never really seen it except for in the movie 300.”
It was something she excelled at right away, and she credits her track-based background for that.
“I relied on the strength and agility of my lower body that’s I’d built up as a runner to get power in my throws. Once I made that switch, I decided I needed to stick with it. I thought to myself ‘If I was good enough to get into college doing just the javelin, that would be the dream.’”
Things would not quite work out that way. In high school, Ciera was a tour de force in a wide array of events. She won the long jump competition as a high school freshman at the Arizona State Track & Field Championships, was a two-time runner-up in the 300m hurdles, scored in the 100m dash, 100m hurdles and 4x400m relay, and made five trips to the USATF Nationals.
At one-such meet as a junior in high school, Holston found herself in Myrtle Beach. Her mom told her she needed to make a trip to Charleston to, in her words, get some culture.
“The timing worked out perfectly because it was right around then that my coaches were telling me I needed to start looking at colleges. I went to Charleston, and just fell in love with the city. The beach was right there, and the city was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I talked to the coaches, and it all worked out.”
Holston got into the College of Charleston, and made the track & field team on her merits in the heptathlon. In her freshman season she made the SoCon All-Rookie team, and hit a collegiate PR of 36.55m as a sophomore. That summer, Ciera had a welcome conversation with CofC track & field assistant coach Ben Yocum.
“Coach Yocum talked to me over the fall, and because of injury concerns, asked if I’d want to move off the multis and just throw the javelin. It was a dream come true. I went from dreading practice every day to looking forward to it.”
Ciera rewarded her coaches for that decision by scoring as both a junior and senior in the javelin at the CAA Championships, finishing in eighth place both years. Her greatest individual effort though came at the Lowcountry Collegiate Invitational in Mt. Pleasant, where she uncorked a collegiate-best throw of 36.95m, which cements her as the third-best javelin-thrower in the history of the College.
“Coaches are always telling us to ‘trust the process,’ and I buy in to that, and that’s always something that lives in the back of my brain…but that doesn’t stop me from being impatient and wishing it would happen right now. So when I pulled off that throw, I felt like the pieces were finally coming together. The fact that all that hard work had paid off toward the end of the season felt incredible.”
Now, with her part to play for the Cougars in the CAA Championships complete, Holston looks ahead to the next phase of her life…the part where she’s a college graduate, and her track & field career is in her rear-view.
“This last year of my college career has been a realization for me that I’m going to kind of need to redefine who I am, to separate the student-athlete I’ve been for pretty much my entire life from the woman I’m becoming. And as crazy as it sounds, I’m kind of looking forward to it.
“I was never going to be able to hide behind the jock label forever. I’m going to miss the team-aspect and the thrill of competition, but I can’t wait to find myself outside of athletics…to see what that person is like.”