(Lorri Sughroue/McCook Daily Gazette)
And now, nine years after graduating from McCook Senior High, he's made it back, as the physical education and health teacher at McCook Junior High.
"It was a good job, I loved the people I worked with," he said of his sales rep job. "But I couldn't see myself doing it for the rest of my life." Plus, it was the first time he wasn't coaching baseball and Holthus said he missed the relationships and the kids.
He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Kearney with a bachelor's degree in wildlife management, then returned to school and graduated in 2011 with a teaching and coaching endorsement.
School is a little different now, he admitted, as his former junior high teachers are now his co-workers. But the cohesiveness of the staff was one reason why he wanted to teach in McCook, Holthus said. "The teachers here, they make it feel like home," he said.
In addition to his teaching, Holthus is also a coach for the varsity football team and will coach seventh grade track in the spring.
Despite being a three-sport athlete in high school,
Holthus said he will still be able to relate to students who may not be so athletically-inclined.
All it takes is a little encouragement, he said. "I don't expect them to be great athletes, but just to come out and have fun with classmates and participate," he said.
Even for the most uncoordinated?
"I can find some way for the student to relate to the activity we're doing, in something they like to do. Hand-eye coordination in basketball drills can help kids who like to play the guitar, helped them develop skills for that," he said.
Just like he wasn't cut out for sales, teaching is not for everyone, he said.
"You have to have a passion for kids and there's a different challenge every day. The key for me is to be a good teacher, with a smile on my face."
And, "Remember what it's like being a seventh grader."