Old Pueblo Abuelo: We need Julius Holt

Julius Holt. (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

This is the 26th episode of “Old Pueblo Abuelo”, a reflection on the good things happening in the Old Pueblo from a sometimes grumpy and often humorous Tucson-born grandfather. and write from my office in Tucson, the Old Pueblo.

So much has been written and said about my friend Julius Holt. The former University of Arizona footballer passed away on Monday and the news is still hard to come to terms with. He was only 60 years old.

The weight becomes heavy when we think about the things we are unable to accomplish, but Julius has made our efforts much easier. He needed more time. We needed more of his time. We need Julius.

He grew up a few miles from where my family lived in the late 1970s, but his life was radically different back then. He lived at 1105 R Street just north of Logan Circle in the Cardoza neighborhood and I lived at 9638 Dewmar Lane in suburban Kensington, Maryland. He once remarked that we lived close to each other but not really. I countered that my dad worked hard to bring his family from a dirt road south of the railroad in Tucson to a little taste of success and he did the same for his family. The thing is, Julius worked hard to improve the lives of many families, just like my father. Julius was a good man.

More “Old Pueblo Abuelo” can be found here.

We all know of his work with youth football and other important areas in our community. His work on behalf of our children is legendary, and it has been accurately documented many times over by my brother Javierbut only a few know the issues he faced during the COVID shutdowns and the personal attacks he had to resist to do the right thing.

When faced with an unknown as we all have, Julius followed the guidelines sent to him by local, state and national authorities. Schools were closed and parks were closed, or they were supposed to be, so he made the difficult and correct decision to suspend a season of the Tucson Youth and Spirit Federation. Most parents were grateful. Most parents followed the rules. Some did not. Some attacked Julius.

Some programs left the local youth football program they had been associated with for 50 years for the promise of a better situation in Scottsdale, but they didn’t go quietly as they should have. Julius continued to do the right thing. Some national figures found it “appetizing” that only a few children could die from a stranger, but that was not acceptable to Julius. It shouldn’t have been acceptable to anyone.

He was still attacked on rogue Facebook pages by strangers and “friends”. It was pointless and actually quite embarrassing to watch, but the same characters who told Julius they would never forget are now openly mourning his loss like the rest of us who knew Julius did the right thing. They forgot.

I was worried about Julius. He did the right thing and now it’s time for them to do the right thing. Enough of them.

Julius needed more time. More time for his own family. Her daughter Julia transferred to Canyon del Oro and she had to miss required games under AIA rules. If you knew Julius, then you knew he wanted to see his daughter pitch one more time before her high school career ended, but he knew and understood the rules. He waited. She waited. His family waited.

Julius died before sunrise on Monday April 4, and Julia’s throwing time came as the sun set on Tuesday April 5. Julia pitched an inning and she picked up three strikeouts. I don’t know how she could play, but she did.

The mystery of life robbed him of the chance to see Julia pitch when that opportunity was only hours away. Julius missed Julia’s debut in the body but he gave her strength by his presence.

As I have noted before, losing a parent is like drifting in the ocean with the rising and falling tides. We have a city without one of its leaders but we also have a family without its anchor. History tells us that there might be other community leaders willing to take some of his shadow, but it’s up to his friends to hold his family close to shore.





Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as Top High School Reporter in 2014, he received the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News Award winner and has been coaching youth, high school and college since over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girl wrestling. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and been named to all-state teams. Participating in hockey, basketball, baseball, and high school track and field, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is Southern Arizona’s voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing Arizona’s top football player, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019, became a member of the Sunnyside Los Mezquites Cross Country Hall of Fame in 2021 and he was a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee and he won a Distinguished Service Award from the Amphitheater. Contact Andy Morales at [email protected]

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