Buckeyes' Coach Holtmann Showing Support in Style During Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Week

Coach Chris Holtmann

Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann has a special pair of sneakers.

“My wife (Lori) picked them out for me, and I only wear them once a year and then they go back in the closet,” Holtmann says.

The coach will dig the shoes out again when the Buckeyes host Purdue on January 23 as part of the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Week.

“There’s no doubt that while I’m lacing them up, I’ll be thinking about the people in my life who have been affected by cancer,” Holtmann says, adding that when he coached Butler (2014 to 2017), cancer impacted several members of the Bulldogs family; a former player was diagnosed with cancer, as well as the father of one team member and the mother of another.

The Bulldog player, Andrew Smith, 25, passed away in 2016 from the effects of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukemia.

“He was a real fan favorite, and he and his family and his wife, Samantha, were incredibly brave in how they allowed their story to be shared throughout their fight,” Holtmann says.

Also during the Purdue game, the coach will honor his mother-in-law, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, by adding to his awareness-raising outfit.

“I have a tie that represents that, and I’ll wear it on game day.”

Holtmann is an enthusiastic supporter of Coaches vs. Cancer’s mission to raise awareness and funding—an effort that has involved coaches around the country for more than 20 years.

“The importance of this has been passed down from generation to generation of coaches by some of our elder statesmen,” says Holtmann, who at 47 is one of the new generation of coaches dedicated to the cause.

He plans to pass the message along to his team.

“We will talk to our players about it. We’ll leave it open for them to discuss how cancer has impacted their families. They’ll provide some examples, and I’ll share some examples from my life.”

Holtmann and some of his Ohio State players have visited The James, and the coach said there are plans for an official team visit in the spring.

“One of the big things I’ve learned since I’ve been at Ohio State is the incredible number of people at The James working so hard and diligently,” Holtmann says. “It makes me proud to be here and see how Ohio State and the people who love Ohio State are at the forefront of this fight.”

Since it was created by the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches, Coaches vs. Cancer has raised more than $100 million through a series of fundraising events, including three-point shooting contests and golf outings.