BOZEMAN — Montana State's Sonny Holland was known for having several phrases he’d use as both a player, a coach, and also with his friends and family.
One of his famous lines was 'The greatest gift you can give someone is their time' — words that couldn’t have painted a better picture than during his celebration of life.
Hundreds of people gathered on campus Tuesday at the Strand Union Building (SUB) to remember the impact Coach Holland left on both people and the university, a legacy that will live on forever as 'The Greatest Bobcat of Them All.'
“There is a time, and there is a place for everything," Brad Daws, one of Holland's former players ('73-75), stated recalling his coach's famous words. "Now is the time, and this is the place to remember and honor the greatest Bobcat of all time – Coach Sonny Holland.”
During Tuesday’s celebration of life, Holland’s daughters (Wendy, Heidi and Jody) shared that it was the Chief’s wish that the fight song would be played — a symbol of his love and passion for Montana State, especially for Bobcat Football.
With time spent both as a player, coach, and administrator, there were dozens of stories shared about who Sonny Holland was — many that ended in laughs.
“I noticed a subcontractor had written on the concrete base ‘Go Grizz’ with two z’s," Daws recalled during the installment of Holland's statue. "I quickly scratched out the malicious words and inscribed my own three letters that starts with F and ends with G. Sonny saw this, grinned, but he also gave me a look, and all of his former players know that look."
From winning a national championship as a player to then doing so as a coach, there weren’t many people who didn’t know who Sonny Holland was.
His impact reached well beyond state lines, which is why in 2011 a million dollar donation was gifted in his honor to the university to help kick off their end zone project.
“The person was not a football player," Montana State University President Waded Cruzado shared about the donor. "The person was not even a graduate of Montana State, but you know what he told me? He knew about Sonny Holland. The coach of coaches, so he said I have a request. As you prepare this new end zone, that student section needs to carry the name of Coach Sonny Holland. I asked him if he had met the coach, but he said no. I just know that he’s a very good man.”
In Cruzado’s words, “Montana State didn’t know about championships until Sonny Holland,” and since he knows a thing or two about winning, his daughter’s had a good idea of what he might say before the Bobcats semifinal game this Saturday against South Dakota State University.
“We got another chance to go get them Jacks," said Heidi Vinje, Holland's middle daughter. "Get them early and don’t let up. Make everyone around you great, and you’ll get the job done. My light is guiding you to Texas. Now’s the time. This is the place to celebrate and honor our hero, 'The Greatest Bobcat of All Time,' our dad."