Who We Are: Ryan Holgate
"Being at Arizona has given me the chance to learn something new every day and the opportunity to be around a bunch of great people that can influence me to better myself. Getting to improve myself as an athlete and as a person, that's my favorite part of being a Wildcat."
Hometown: Davis, Calif.
By nearly any statistical measure, outfielder Ryan Holgate had a successful freshman campaign for Arizona Baseball.
Yet it wasn't enough for him.
Starting as a true freshman for a Pac-12 baseball program is an achievement on its own; looking like you belong is even rarer. Despite hitting seven home runs, driving in 33 RBI, and posting a .378 on-base percentage in a full-time starting role in 2019, Holgate was looking for more.
This was the attitude that he brought into the summer of 2019 as he prepared for his sophomore campaign. Holgate got to work reinventing his body through diet and exercise to transform himself into a more complete player, and became determined to achieve more in the classroom and grow as a person.
Through strength coach Jim Krumpos and athletic trainer Isaac Trujillo he perfected his body while competing in the prestigious summer baseball Northwoods League with the La Crosse Loggers.
"It goes back to the old saying, 'Your body is your temple,' he said. "Knowing that I decided it was time to take better care of it to the best of my ability. I didn't think I was taking care of myself as well as I could, so I made the changes that needed to be made."
It would be easy, perhaps even understandable, for an athlete competing in their first summer ball season to struggle physically. Postgame meals are frequently unhealthy options such as pizza, and working out means finding the drive to attend a local gym. However, Holgate didn't let these obstacles stand in his way.
"Again it comes back to the resources I'm given — when I was in summer ball I could easily just pull up the Bridge app that Krumpos has us on and it would have my full workout for the day," Holgate said. "Obviously he can't be there with me, but it was the same as going into McKale and getting a workout in, which was huge."
The results were obvious to anyone who saw him. Holgate shed over 20 pounds while also adding muscle to his frame and arrived back on campus nearly unrecognizable: slimmer, stronger, faster, a better all-around player.
At the same time he returned to Tucson he buckled down with C.A.T.S. Academics senior learning specialist Michelle Galambos to hone his academics.
"I think it's something that's important. Coach Jay (Johnson) is really all about his players growing as people and being on-track with academics before worrying about baseball," Holgate said. "In high school I struggled a little bit with classes; it wasn't bad but I also wasn't the best student. When I arrived here coach Jay really set that foundation and rolled it out to me as, 'this is what you need to do to succeed,' and it really hit home. This year it started to really come together."
His sophomore year results manifested immediately.
On the field he raised his batting average to a team-best mark of .377 (a jump of over 130 points from his freshman campaign), ranked sixth in the Pac-12 in doubles, and reached base safely in all 15 games.
Through his class work he earned C.A.T.S. Academics Student Athlete of the Month honors in February and achieved the highest GPA mark of his collegiate career, reaching both of the academic goals he had set for himself.
"Ryan has more confidence in his ability to be a thriving college student, which has translated into improved academic skills, organization, and academic drive," Galambos said of Holgate's improvements. "He is extremely hard working, and one of the most coachable students I have ever worked with. He is eager to grow and improve, even when it's difficult. He is also a lot of fun to work with, he brings a great energy into the room and I always enjoy our conversations."
Taking full advantage of the resources available to him as a Wildcat student-athlete helped Holgate enjoy a breakout sophomore season.
"I think my freshman year went well, but I always felt like I wasn't capitalizing on everything I could," he said. "This year I was able to put together a consistent routine that made everything click. It's all about the routine, and I'm not sure I could have brought it together or sustained it without people like Michelle, Krumpos, Isaac, and everyone else."