Old Pueblo Abuelo: We need Julius Holt

Julius Holt. (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

This is the 26th installment of “Old Pueblo Abuelo,” a thought on positive things happening in the Old Pueblo from a sometimes cranky and often times humorous grandfather actually born in Tucson and writing from my desk in Tucson, the Old Pueblo.

So much has been written and said about my friend Julius Holt. The former University of Arizona football standout passed away on Monday and the news is still hard to accept. He was just 60.

Weight grows heavy when we think about the things we are unable to accomplish but Julius made our efforts much easier. He needed more time. We needed more of his time. We need Julius.

He grew up a few miles from where my family lived in the late 1970s but his life was dramatically different at the time. He lived at 1105 R Street just north of Logan Circle in the Cardoza Neighborhood and I lived at 9638 Dewmar Lane in the Kensington, Maryland suburb. He once pointed out that we lived near each other but not really. I countered that my father worked hard to bring his family from a dirt road south of the railroad tracks in Tucson to a small glimpse of success and he did the same for his family. The thing is, Julius worked hard to make life better for a lot of families, just like my father. Julius was a good man.

More “Old Pueblo Abuelo” can be found here.

We all know of his work with youth football and in other important areas in our community. His work on behalf of our kids is legendary, and it’s been accurately documented several times by my brother Javier, but only a few know about the issues he had to deal with during the COVID shutdowns and the personal attacks he had to withstand to do the right thing.

Facing an unknown like we all did, Julius followed the guidelines sent to him from local, state and national authorities. Schools were closed and parks were closed, or they were supposed to be, so he made the difficult and correct decision to put a season of the Tucson Youth and Spirit Federation on hold. Most parents were grateful. Most parents followed the rules. Some did not. Some attacked Julius.

Some programs left the local youth football program they had been associated with for 50 years for the promise of a better situation in Scottsdale but they didn’t leave quietly like they should have. Julius continued to do the right thing. Some national figures found it “appetizing” that only a few kids might die from an unknown but that was not acceptable to Julius. It shouldn’t have been acceptable to anyone.

He was attacked on rogue Facebook pages by strangers and “friends” all the same. It was unwarranted, and actually quite embarrassing to watch, but the same characters who told Julius they would never forget are now openly mourning his loss like the rest of us who knew Julius did the right thing. They forgot.

My concern was for Julius. He did the right thing and now it’s time for them to do the right thing. Enough of them.

Julius did need more time. More time for his own family. His daughter Julia transferred to Canyon del Oro and she had to sit out the required games as set out by the rules of the AIA. If you knew Julius, then you knew he wanted to see his daughter pitch once more before her high school career was over but he knew and understood the rules. He waited. She waited. His family waited.

Julius passed away before the sunrise of Monday, April 4 and Julia’s time to pitch came when the sun was setting on Tuesday, April 5. Julia threw one inning and she picked up three strikeouts. I’m not sure how she was able to perform but she did.

The mystery of life took away his chance to watch Julia pitch when that opportunity was just hours away. Julius missed Julia’s debut in body but he gave her strength with his presence.

As I have noted before, losing a parent is like drifting in the ocean with the tides coming in and out. We have a city without one of its leaders but we also have a family without its anchor. History tells us there might be other community leaders ready to take up some of his shadow but it’s up to his friends to hold his family close to the shore.





Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019, became a member of the Sunnyside Los Mezquites Cross Country Hall of Fame in 2021 and he was a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee and he earned a Distinguished Service Award from Amphitheater. Contact Andy Morales at amoralesmytucson@yahoo.com

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