Warhawk senior hopes to give back


Jalen Holley (7) slides in celebration after scoring a goal at Fiskum Field. Photo courtesy of Jalen Holley.

Nick Walczak, Mens Sports Journalist

Jalen Holley is a senior forward on the UW-Whitewater men’s soccer team. He has spent the past three seasons being a pivotal member and leader of the team. Holley grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and attended Wauwatosa East where he played soccer, basketball, and ran track before making the decision to join the Warhawk soccer program. 

Holley has played in 54 games, he started in 18 of them. The forward has also scored 12 goals and assisted on another 13 for the Warhawks.

Q: Do you have any weird pregame or post game rituals?

A: Honestly, I really don’t. I know some of my teammates will put their left shoe on before their right shoe, before games, stuff like that. But I guess since high school, I’ve eaten an apple before every game. Like if we play at 7:00, I will eat an apple at 5:00. I don’t know why, but no, nothing crazy.

Q: Why did you choose to come play at Whitewater?

A: So, I went to Wauwatosa East High School, coach Guinn has a friend who was the head coach of Wauwatosa West, and I knew I always wanted to try and play in college. After we played [Wauwatosa West] my senior year, he kind of recruited me for [coach Guinn]. So, I didn’t have too many options and my oldest brother went to Whitewater, so he was here my freshman year, so I would say that was an influence too. I’ve had family members come here and I’m from Milwaukee, so it’s not too far home. It was kind of just the right fit honestly and I didn’t really have too many other offers to play anywhere else, so I kind of just took a chance on Whitewater.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories playing at Whitewater?

A: There’s a funny story. I came in as a freshman, I was a walk-on. And my first varsity game ever, it was at home against Augsburg, the fall of 2018. I subbed in 20 or 25 minutes into the first half, and I ended up getting a red card like five minutes into me being on the field. So that’s always my funny story of how I started my college career. Also, I would definitely say 2019, it was our first year in the conference tournament, so we went out to Boston, and we ended up winning the conference tournament out there. So that was pretty special. We got to stay in a hotel and explore Boston a little bit. But just traveling with the team was fun. Also, last year the home game against Loras, my first game back after one of my roommates had Covid. I had to quarantine for two weeks. So, it was my first game back in like four or five games and I subbed on and got an assist. It was just a special game too. Loras games are always crazy. I don’t know why. I know it’s a cup game, so it’s always intense, you know something is going to happen. 

Q: What are your plans after you leave Whitewater?

A: I joined a program [at UWW] called the McNair Scholars Program last year, because I’ve looked into being an athletic director at college or university and you kind of need your master’s degree to do that, so I am starting the process of applying to grad schools this fall. So, if I was able to get a graduate assistantship helping out a soccer team, wherever I end up going, I would love to do that. I would just love to be around the game. You know, everyone as a kid, has that dream of playing professionally, but at this age, you start to realize it’s probably more realistic to think that you are going to have to go out and find a 9-5. But just keep on being around the game. I would love to coach definitely. I would probably try to coach youth kids, just try to give back, because I have had so many coaches that taught me so many lessons, not even about soccer, just life lessons… I have had so many awesome and special people influence my life and soccer.

Q: What are your goals for the rest of the season, both individually and as a team?

A: Starting off with the team, I definitely want to make the NCAA tournament first and foremost. I’ve only done it once in my time here, and there is kind of nothing like it when you make it. Your season kind of restarts, it doesn’t matter what rank you have coming into it, everyone a clean slate. You have to win the next game to move on, so that’s pretty cool. Then I would say winning our conference tournament, which is going to be no easy task at all. We know there are quality teams in our conference, but after how we played the last few games, I think we are starting to find our way. We are starting to really gel and click together, starting to figure out how people like to play…  Which does come with time. But as long as we stay on the right path towards the end of the season, start playing our best brand of soccer, I think we have a good shot to meet those two goals. Individually, I said before the start of the season, I would like to score 10 goals, and I am at three right now, so I’ve got some making up to do and I said five assists as well, and I just have that one right now, but we have some games left to make that up. Ultimately all that matters is winning games at the end of the day. That’s honestly what my focus is on, I don’t care who scores the goal, as long as we’re in that winning category, that’s what matters.

Whether you are a Warhawk supporter or not, you can’t help but root for someone who gives back the way Holley plans to. The Warhawks have eight games left, including their last two regular season matchups, against UW-Eau Claire on Oct. 26 and UW-Platteville on Oct. 28. The conference tournament may prove to round-up the Warhawks’ season. It takes place in Salisbury, Maryland, Nov. 3-5