Soccer more than a game for Holke families

Claudia Loucks
Claudia Loucks
Hunter-Clark Holke, left; Jeremy Holke; Ethan Holke, Nick Holke and Nathan Holke at a recent Geneseo soccer game.

The Geneseo High School Boys Soccer Team finished a successful season with its final game a tie with Rock Island, leaving the Maple Leafs to at the top of the Western Big 6 conference. That final game was bittersweet for two Holke families – Nick and Jacque Holke and the late Deborah Clark-Holke and his sons, Nathan and Hunter and Jeremy and Stacy Holke and their son, Ethan.

The three young men played crucial roles in the success of the Geneseo team.

Soccer came into their lives as a healing tool after the death of Deborah Clark-Holke, mother of Nathan and Hunter and wife to Nick Holke.

Nick Holke’s late wife, Deborah Clark-Holke, passed away on Mother’s Day of 2006, and he explained his late wife was in South Carolina to visit family and attend a church service where her father, Rev. James Clark, was pastor and was giving the message prior to his retirement.

“She was in South Carolina to surprise her father and when leaving the church, she was a passenger in a car driven by her brother, when the accident happened,” Nick Holke said. “She died at the sight of the accident and she was pregnant with our daughter, who was born three-months premature at the sight of the accident. I named her ‘Faith,’ and she died a week later.”

Nick Holke explained that his brother and sister-in-law Jeremy and Stacy Holke introduced soccer into the life of their son, Ethan, and into the lives of their nephews, Nathan and Hunter after the death of the boys’ mother and aunt.

“Soccer to my family is more than just a game,” Nick Holke said, explaining the boys became involved in the sport when his oldest son was just four years old and the three boys played in Geneseo Youth Soccer.

“We, as family, owe the sport a debt of gratitude as it helped the boys cope during a very hard time in their lives. It gave them something to look forward to each week and it helped three young boys bond.”

“The boys have been on the same team every year except one year, when Nate and Ethan became freshmen at GHS and Hunter was not allowed to play as an eighth grader,” Nick Holke said, and added, “Playing Geneseo Youth Soccer, Geneseo Soccer Club, Club Soccer, Summer League, countless 3 v. 3 tourneys, Seth Ernst Memorial Soccer Slam, Olympic Developmental Program, high school and many others, 12 months a year for 14 years, the three have been on the pitch together.”

He estimated they have played at least 500 games together and been to thousands of practices together – “playing the game they love.”

“We all recognize, as a family, how special this has been for them and that this last season was special, as we are blessed that they were able to have had this one last season together when just over a month ago, any season at all was doubtful, Nick Holke said.

Cousins Nathan and Ethan are seniors at GHS and are moving on, Ethan will continue to play soccer at St. Ambrose University next year and Nathan will attend Kirkwood College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to study Collision Repair.

“Nathan decided that it doesn’t get any better than this and playing with his cousins, and pulled his name from those recruiting him a year ago.

Hunter Holke, a junior at GHS, will play one more year without his brother and cousin and continue to visit universities that are actively recruiting him for their 2022 class. Hunter’s main requirement beyond his college major is to be no more than three hours form his brother and cousin.