By Nate Thompson
HOLTON – There’s a tattoo on Aidan Poling’s arm that may all the time maintain a particular that means, a sure type of life blood for him.
Poling, a 6-foot senior guard for the Pink Devils, skilled an unthinkable loss when he was simply 11 when his father, Michael Poling, handed away from a coronary heart assault.
“I believe he’d be fairly proud with the success we’re having to date,” Aidan mentioned about his dad. “I’ve a tattoo on my arm with a soccer ball and basketball alongside along with his date of start and demise, and his title as a memorial. He coached me in each sport I performed in after I was a child.”
“He was extra into baseball and soccer, however he all the time pushed me to be a frontrunner,” he added. “To attempt to be a flooring normal in all of the sports activities that I play.”
Holton, coming off a robust 13-win season a yr in the past, has taken one other step ahead this season by roaring out of the gates with a 7-1 report. Led by a stifling protection that usually encompasses a full-court zone entice, the Pink Devils have already produced key wins over Central State Actions Affiliation rivals Morley Stanwood and Kent Metropolis, in addition to strong non-conference victories over Ravenna and Newaygo.
It’s no shock the coaches at Holton projected a giant season for Poling throughout the preseason. First-year head coach Keith Swanson, a longtime assistant at Fremont Excessive College, mentioned he may sense it after just a few practices.
“He’s so key to our success,” Swanson mentioned. “He’s our undisputed chief. He leads everyone. Aidan has an especially excessive basketball IQ, and truthfully, I don’t suppose I’ve ever been round a participant his age that takes such an expert method to the sport. Simply from the facet of watching movie for hours at a time, and he’ll are available and get a exercise in earlier than observe. He’s a pushed particular person.”
Watching Holton play basketball was a giant a part of Poling’s life as he was rising up, and he obtained a number of perception into the varsity recreation from his older brother Aaron, a former Pink Satan.
“I used to be the supervisor on the staff when he performed,” Poling mentioned. “I’ve received a number of (ideas) from him which have helped enhance my recreation.”
Though he excels on lightning-quick drives to the rim and has a strong exterior shot, Poling mentioned he realized methods to play with a sure grittiness from his older brother, which is a necessity with this yr’s Holton squad.
The Pink Devils need to be gritty and mentally powerful, notably on protection, as a result of there aren’t a number of reserves on the bench, and the gamers aren’t tall.
“We solely have eight gamers and the tallest child is 6-1,” Swanson mentioned. “We’ve been capable of flip over groups fairly a bit and we’ve used the press to dictate what they get. In opposition to a staff like Morley, which has good dimension, we didn’t need them to (arrange their offense) and get a very good take a look at our dimension, as a result of they’d be capable of expose us.”
As a substitute, the Pink Devils restricted the Mohawks to only 37 factors in a season-opening 12-point victory. Poling led the way in which with 14 factors.
“I believe that win actually received the children believing,” Swanson mentioned. “We hadn’t crushed Morley in just a few years.”
“Our protection has been actually shocking,” Poling added. “We’re all the time deflecting passes and getting in different groups’ heads. I’m positive it’s annoying to play towards.”
Poling has continued to steer the cost on each ends of the court docket, averaging 19 factors, three rebounds, three assists and three steals per recreation.
Even off the court docket, Poling doesn’t enterprise far-off from his staff, notably his good friend Wyatt Monette, the Pink Devils’ different standout.
Attributable to private points at dwelling, Poling was given the chance to reside with Monette’s household in August, and he gratefully accepted. He mentioned it’s helped him slim his focus to high school and sports activities – he’s additionally a pitcher and performs second base in baseball.
However with the Pink Devils being sizzling and heavy into the Covid-19 condensed basketball schedule, Poling has some large objectives that he’d like to perform earlier than enthusiastic about spring sports activities.
“The last word aim is to go far within the playoffs and go 10-0 in convention,” he mentioned. “For me, I actually love boosting my staff. I need to get them hyped. I really feel like if I begin taking part in properly, the staff feeds off that.”
That’s simply the way in which his dad would have appreciated it.