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Man of the Month: Marcus Holman

by Chloe T. |

cardon's man of the month series, July 2021

In our "Man of the Month" series, we feature people who inspire us and are creating positive change in the world, specifically in the self-care space. This month, we are excited to feature Marcus Holman, a professional lacrosse player and an assistant coach for the Utah Utes men's lacrosse team.


Marcus Holman is a professional lacrosse player for the Archers of the Premier Lacrosse League, and an assistant coach for the Utah Utes men's lacrosse team. As one of the PLL’s leading attackmen, Marcus was named to the 2021 PLL All Star Game. Originally from Baltimore, Marcus now lives in Utah with his fiance Alex.


Career life

How did you first get started in lacrosse? When did you decide you wanted to make a career out of lacrosse?

I like to tell people that I was born into lacrosse. Both of my parents played Division One in college in the early 80s. I grew up in Baltimore, where lacrosse is the most popular sport. As a kid, I loved a lot of different sports. I just love competing and being outside. In high school, I played football, basketball and lacrosse. Like every other kid, my goal was to be an NFL player. But after my freshman year, I got hurt. I couldn’t play football, so that dream went away and I pushed this lacrosse thing.

I worked hard at that in high school and received a scholarship to the University of North Carolina, which was an incredible four years for me. And then, right after I graduated, I had that “holy sh*t” moment where I thought: “I don’t have a team anymore. I’ve committed so much in my life to this, now what do I do?” My dad, who is an incredible mentor to me, encouraged me to stay with lacrosse and opened my eyes to the opportunities of teaching lessons, training kids, and running clinics. So I did that, and I’ve been able to make a living out of doing what I love: playing and coaching. Here I am, as an assistant coach at the University of Utah, and I'm able to play in the PLL during the summer. I don't have it all figured out, but I’m definitely happy with where I am in my life.

What’s it like being both a player and a coach? How do you balance both jobs?

They intertwine for sure, but you have to keep some of the aspects of them separate. I find that when I’m a coach, I’m trying to be disciplined for my players, sometimes raising my voice if they made mistakes or so on and so forth. And then as a player, you’re like: “Oh damn, I make mistakes too. Nobody’s perfect out here.” So, I try to balance that by not trying to be too perfect when I’m playing, like I would expect of my players, and just letting it rip on the field. Then, changing gears during the academic calendar to be more organized, structured, and a mentor to the younger players. It’s not a Jekyll and Hyde thing, but I think it's like one hand feeds the other, because I’m around the game 365 days a year.

What is your pre-game ritual? How do you unwind after a game?

As a younger player, I used to have a lot more “I need to do this, I need to do that.” But now I know what it takes to just get my mind into that right position to play. I definitely like listening to music, whether it’s on the bus to the stadium or in a locker room. (I’m usually the DJ.) I’d like to put on eye black too and that’s another moment I have to myself to not quite turn into a warrior but mentally transform a bit – it’s that war paint. I like to be positive and energetic with our teammates, say a little prayer after the national anthem and then off we go. There are two ends of the spectrum, some guys have ten things they need to hit off before they play, but I would say I’m more in the middle.

What’s one of your favorite memories playing lacrosse?

There’s definitely been a lot. I would say those greatest memories are after championship wins. I’ll name three. My senior year at UNC, we won our conference championship, the ACC, which is traditionally the best conference in lacrosse. It was the first time they had won in 16 years so that was really special to restore glory back to UNC. In 2017, in Major League Lacrosse, we won the championship with my team in Ohio, the team that I have been drafted to. We were really bad in the beginning, but we built it up over the course of four years, and we were able to win the championship. And then the last one is winning a gold medal for Team USA in 2018, and that was really an incredible finish. It was a game winning goal with zero seconds left on the clock. The game was actually over in Israel, and my whole family was there and right after, we did a trip to Italy for 10 days. Those three memories are definitely substantial for me.

How did you first get started in lacrosse? When did you decide you wanted to make a career out of lacrosse?

I like to tell people that I was born into lacrosse. Both of my parents played Division One in college in the early 80s. I grew up in Baltimore, where lacrosse is the most popular sport. As a kid, I loved a lot of different sports. I just love competing and being outside. In high school, I played football, basketball and lacrosse. Like every other kid, my goal was to be an NFL player. But after my freshman year, I got hurt. I couldn’t play football, so that dream went away and I pushed this lacrosse thing.

I worked hard at that in high school and received a scholarship to the University of North Carolina, which was an incredible four years for me. And then, right after I graduated, I had that “holy sh*t” moment where I thought: “I don’t have a team anymore. I’ve committed so much in my life to this, now what do I do?” My dad, who is an incredible mentor to me, encouraged me to stay with lacrosse and opened my eyes to the opportunities of teaching lessons, training kids, and running clinics. So I did that, and I’ve been able to make a living out of doing what I love: playing and coaching. Here I am, as an assistant coach at the University of Utah, and I'm able to play in the PLL during the summer. I don't have it all figured out, but I’m definitely happy with where I am in my life.

 

What’s it like being both a player and a coach? How do you balance both jobs?

They intertwine for sure, but you have to keep some of the aspects of them separate. I find that when I’m a coach, I’m trying to be disciplined for my players, sometimes raising my voice if they made mistakes or so on and so forth. And then as a player, you’re like: “Oh damn, I make mistakes too. Nobody’s perfect out here.” So, I try to balance that by not trying to be too perfect when I’m playing, like I would expect of my players, and just letting it rip on the field. Then, changing gears during the academic calendar to be more organized, structured, and a mentor to the younger players. It’s not a Jekyll and Hyde thing, but I think it's like one hand feeds the other, because I’m around the game 365 days a year.

What is your pre-game ritual? How do you unwind after a game?

As a younger player, I used to have a lot more “I need to do this, I need to do that.” But now I know what it takes to just get my mind into that right position to play. I definitely like listening to music, whether it’s on the bus to the stadium or in a locker room. (I’m usually the DJ.) I’d like to put on eye black too and that’s another moment I have to myself to not quite turn into a warrior but mentally transform a bit – it’s that war paint. I like to be positive and energetic with our teammates, say a little prayer after the national anthem and then off we go. There are two ends of the spectrum, some guys have ten things they need to hit off before they play, but I would say I’m more in the middle.

 

What’s one of your favorite memories playing lacrosse?

There’s definitely been a lot. I would say those greatest memories are after championship wins. I’ll name three. My senior year at UNC, we won our conference championship, the ACC, which is traditionally the best conference in lacrosse. It was the first time they had won in 16 years so that was really special to restore glory back to UNC. In 2017, in Major League Lacrosse, we won the championship with my team in Ohio, the team that I have been drafted to. We were really bad in the beginning, but we built it up over the course of four years, and we were able to win the championship. And then the last one is winning a gold medal for Team USA in 2018, and that was really an incredible finish. It was a game winning goal with zero seconds left on the clock. The game was actually over in Israel, and my whole family was there and right after, we did a trip to Italy for 10 days. Those three memories are definitely substantial for me.


DIVING INTO LACROSSE

Lacrosse has exploded in popularity in the last few years – the PLL is only a couple of years old, and the Utes only became a varsity team in 2019. What has it been like for you to experience this rapid growth in the sport?

My career is paralleling the growth of lacrosse. Just thinking about it, the growth from 20 years ago to now is crazy, but then again, the growth from 5 years ago to now is also crazy. We have a Pac-12 school playing men's lacrosse and a Pac-12 conference completely playing women's lacrosse. I think maybe people on the outside when they think of lacrosse, they’ll think of it as a Mid-Atlantic land sport in places like Baltimore, Philly, Long Island, and Connecticut. like this preppy, white kid playing the sport. While certainly those areas are going to be stronger and probably have a little bit more tradition with the game but you’re seeing cities like Dallas, Denver, LA, and Seattle really booming with lacrosse and that is our goal coming out here in Salt Lake city. It was to make Salt Lake city to be another cool area where lacrosse is growing.

Another cool thing is the diversity of the game now; you’re seeing a lot of different demographics by the score, people with color whereas traditional as it was a sport for white people. Originally it was founded by Native Americans - I don't think a lot of people know that, it was passed down and the Canadians also took it and ran with it. Understanding the origin of the sport, lacrosse is for everybody and there’s a lot of amazing people in the sport that are trying to make the game more accessible and affordable for players across the country. That has been a little bit of a barrier where it’s $500 to get a helmet pad and a stick right off the bat. That’s a tough barrier of entry if you compare that to soccer where all you need is a soccer ball and the field or basketball where all you need is a ball and hoops. So, there’s a lot of amazing people doing great things for the sport and it’s been cool to see.

How do you see lacrosse growing over the next 5 years?

It would be really cool to see a Division 1 program in California, whether that's a Pac-12 school like Stanford, Cal, San Diego State or all the way up in Oregon. It will be cool to see the western expansion of Division 1 on the men’s side of things at the college level. It would be cool to see the outdoor game continue to grow and maybe expand in the PLL to a few more teams. And on the international stage, there’s some really exciting news being passed around about lacrosse potentially being an Olympics sport in summer 2028 in Los Angeles. The version of lacrosse that they're trying to pass is a little bit different. They’re trying to shorten the field and make it like a 6 on 6 game. There’s good in that - the good is that the roster doesn't have to be this big, so teams from South America or Europe can travel with a small roster. But then, it’s weird because that’s not really lacrosse. I’m a fan of any version of it. I just love to play the sport and to imagine lacrosse on the Olympic stage. It would be really incredible, everybody in the world would be watching the sport.


life off the field

Your fiancé, Alex, plays women’s lacrosse and is a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. How do you two find quality time together with such busy schedules?

It's tough at times, but I think we’re both living the life that we want and pursuing our passions and our careers – that's really special about her and me. She’s my best friend. I want to support her in whatever she does. We talk about our goals as individuals and I think over the past year, and now that we’re engaged, we have a goal of building a family together. The wedding’s coming up this year! Quality time is so important and I think one of the things maybe people don't realize is that you can have quality time when you're not in the same room together. It can be a really meaningful 20-minute FaceTime, or it can be a 5-minute phone call in the middle of the day when she’s stressed out and I'm able to pick up the phone and be there for her.

In today's society, we’re so stimulated with our phones and our laptops and Netflix, you can live with someone and not even talk to them because there's so much stuff going around. We definitely just make it a point to be quality with our time. We’re not perfect, we don't have deep conversations every day of the year, but we both know when we need it, and we’re always there for each other. So, that's pretty cool.

How does self-care fit into your schedule?

What I realized is that, like everything in our lives, it’s a habit. Like waking up and making your bed – that's a habit. It's hard to just do that one day in a week and not do it the other five or vice versa. So as I've grown, honestly Alex has had an impact. Because like most men, it’s just an area where I'm unaware of what to do or how to do it. Something as civilized as putting moisturizer on your face when you wake up or before you go to bed, I’ve just been trying to make that a habit of mine and realize my face feels better. It's not as dry, and it’s glowing a little bit more. With companies like Cardon, making travel-sized products, that's huge for me. I live out of a tote bag. I try to jam as much as I can there. I coach lacrosse in Salt Lake City, which is a desert area and at 4,000-foot elevation. The sun can crush you here. I have seen firsthand, coaches or even my friend’s dad got skin cancer. That's something you can avoid by using SPF and just being mindful and wearing a hat. It's a habit I'm trying to build into my life – like a habit of flossing. And when I run out of floss, it feels off. The goal is to get there with cleaning my face, using moisturizer and SPF.

What is your favorite Cardon product and why?

I've got to go back to the SPF + Moisturizer. Again, being outside pretty much every day, it's a necessity for me whether I'm going out to practice, going to coach, or going for a hike. When I put that on to start my day, I'm like: "okay I'm good to go, bring it on, sun." It allows me to enjoy the beautiful weather out here!

How has creating an Asian-inspired brand affected your connection to your Asian roots?

If I’m being really honest, my cultural self-identity and exploration has come much later in life. It was really only when I moved to Queens in my late 20s that I started asking more questions about why things were the way they were culturally. And in many ways Sanzo is the end product of my willingness to go down that rabbit hole.

What’s really excited me about my journey is that along the way I feel like I’ve met so many other folks who’ve gone down the same rabbit hole and have arrived at the same conclusion independently about the bridging of East and West. But how they manifest that bridging of cultures is completely different from what I’m doing.

Sanzo and I personally also benefit from the work that so many before us have done, from food media, to adventurous restaurateurs, musicians, filmmakers and social advocates.

What is your favorite Cardon product and why?

My favorite Cardon product is the OG Daily SPF + Moisturizer. For most of my life, I’ve been pretty [INSERT WORD HERE] about UV protection. I grew up with the mentality that because I had brown skin, I was completely protected. But over the years and yes, after encouragement from my primary care physician, I’ve been encouraged to use moisturizers with real UVA and UVB protection.

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