R.A. (Racer) Holstead dedicated his life to high school football in the town of Tallulah.
The longtime Tallulah High School and Tallulah Academy football coach will forever be synonymous with Trojan football following a 7 p.m. ceremony Friday dedicating the stadium at Tallulah Academy in his honor — R.A. (Racer) Holstead Memorial Stadium.
The weekend of festivities honoring Holstead concludes at Tallulah Country Club Saturday, August 23 at 7 p.m. with a special “Celebrating Coach” reception. Both events are open to the public.
Holstead served as the first leader of Tallulah Academy when it opened in 1970 and remained a faculty member for 30 years, retiring in 2000 while battling various health issues until he died of natural causes in March 2008. Holstead had been head coach at Tallulah High School from 1955 to 1968 when he stepped down to be the school principal before moving over to Tallulah Academy the following year.
Holstead was head coach at Tallulah Academy from 1970 until 1997. He remained as athletic director and golf coach at the school until retiring in 2000.
During his 48 years of coaching, 42 as head football coach, he achieved an impressive career record of 310-146-8. He was inducted into the LHSAA Hall of Fame, the La. Tech Athletic Hall of Fame and the All-American Football Foundation. Holstead was a past president of the LHSAA and first commissioner of the Louisiana Independent School Athletic Association (LISA).
Holstead won four state championships as head coach at Tallulah High School from 1955-1968.
But he was not limited to championships in football only. Holstead won a championship in basketball during his early years as a coach at Plaquemine High School in 1952 and was state runner-up as the Plaquemine baseball coach that same year.
He spent time at Jena High School as well and coached the basketball team to a state runner-up finish in 1955 before arriving in Tallulah.
At Tallulah, Holstead led the Trojans to back-to-back state football titles twice, first in 1957 and 1958 and then again in 1960 and 1961. He was the first member of the illustrious “300-win club” in Louisiana high school football.
Holstead lead Tallulah Academy to the LISA championship in 1972, 1979,and 1980 as well as runner-up in 1976, 1981, 1981 and 1987.
He was again the leading force in moving the athletic programs to the Mississippi Private School Association and won the MPSA title in 1992 during the first year Louisiana private schools were eligible to join the MPSA.
“This is special for our family,” Lillie Holstead, Racer’s daughter, said. “You know, in the stadium being dedicated to daddy, the one thing he was adamant about when he was still with us was that the field at the school would remain ‘Farmer’s Field’ because a group of farmers helped the school get the football field together when the school opened. This is a way the school can honor him, but the field will remain ‘Farmer’s Field’, because daddy wanted it that way.”
One former player on that 1992 championship team is current school board president Darryl Ellerbee, who has spearheaded the effort to dedicate the stadium to Holstead.
“We knew before coach passed away when the day came, we would rename the stadium, it took us longer to do it than we hoped but we are excited it is finally here,” Ellerbee said. “We are proud that many players and family will be here. What he did for this community and his players, can’t be gauged even by the state championships that he won.”
One of the most important things the former Ruston High and Louisiana Tech athlete did in his coaching career was Racer passed his love of coaching and the game of football to others, most notably his grandson Chad Mahaffey, who was an assistant at Bastrop and is now the head coach at University High in Baton Rouge where he has compiled a record of 46-8 over the past four seasons.
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WHAT: Racer Holstead Stadium ceremony
WHEN: Friday. Aug. 22, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Tallulah Academy, Farmers Field
DETAILS: Former football and golf lettermen who played under Holstead are asked to arrive early to take part in an on-field ceremony prior to the stadium recognition.
ALSO: A celebration of Holstead’s life will take place Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Tallulah Country Club. The public is encouraged to attend.