Looking into the life of a championship Cougar

Sitting among the many rooms located on the second floor of the Athletics/Alumni Center is a small back-corner office. The sign outside the door reads: Softball Head Coach.


Entering her 16th season as the Cougars’ head coach, Kyla Holas looks to replicate the past successes of her championship career. Holas knows softball inside and out, having a decorated past as both a player in Louisiana and coach here in Houston.  |  File Photo/The Cougar

This office belongs to Kyla Holas. Though she is a woman of average height and stature, on the field she is anything but average.

There are family photos on her desk, and the promotional softball poster the University puts out hangs on the board next to her computer. A lone quote by Babe Ruth painted on the wall reads, “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.” Then you take a look at the numerous awards and certificates at Holas’ shelf, and you know she means business.

Holas, entering her 16th year as the first and only head softball coach at Houston, built the program from nothing. She has been able to lead the Cougars to two conference championship titles, several appearances in the NCAA tournament and two Super Regional appearances.

Although Houston is now a nationally recognized team, Holas faced challenges when creating the program in 2001.

“It was just one of those things, fighting the stigma that’s the University of Houston, where we are, not only in the tier of universities in Texas, but just kind of getting past our location and some other things. I think I’ve probably heard Cougar High more than once,” Holas said.

“If you look at our roster, some of our best players in the beginning were from other states. Kids who didn’t really know our reputation in-state and really didn’t know some of those stigmas that were a part of our name. They took a chance, made a visit, came and saw it and fell in love with it.”

Holas’ passion to succeed was built by a welcoming environment toward sports.

Holas said her mother taught her how to pitch when she was young, and she was encouraged to participate in sports as a child. Holas started her softball career in a club at South Houston High School for a year, and then signed on with the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now Louisiana-Lafayette, for three years.

As a player for Southwestern Louisiana, Holas was a three-time NCAA All-American pitcher, received WCWS All-Tournament Team honors, a two-time finalist for the Honda Broderick Cup and led the Ragin’ Cajuns to third place in the 1993 NCAA Women’s College World Series.

This, coupled with Holas’s awards, including the 2007 and 2008 Conference USA Coach of the Year, inductions into the South Houston HS Hall of Honor, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, Louisiana-Lafayette Hall of Fame and in 2015 and her induction into the Pasadena ISD Hall of Fame, as the youngest person to receive the accolade, should come as no surprise.

“At the end of the day, my goals and my values are to work really hard, to put good people back out into society and give back as much as we can, so usually as a result of doing those things — I think usually those awards go hand-in-hand,” Holas said.

“I’m proud when they happen and if they keep coming in, that to me, is a good gauge of the success we’re having.”

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