LIVONIA — Four years ago, when I wrote a column about Kara Holinski, the hustling senior captain of the Bloomfield Hills Marian basketball team, her coach heaped lavish praise.
Mary Cicerone took off on a verbal fast break. “I can’t find enough great adjectives.”
Genuine, kind, compassionate, committed to whatever she does, hard working, and dependable were just a handful I could catch up with.
“She’s the best captain and leader I have had in my (then) 34 years of coaching,” she said.
Athletic director Dave Feldman was equally effusive: “She gets more out of what God gave her than anyone I’ve ever met.”
I renewed our acquaintance over the phone a couple days after June 10, when Holinski received the grandest praise of all, an induction into the Catholic High School League Hall of Fame.
“It was a great honor,” she said. “It was special with my family there, coaches, the other inductees, especially my Marian teammate, Brittany Gray, who also was inducted.”
Holinski has achieved excellence in athletics and academics on both high school and collegiate levels.
On the basketball floor at Marian, she was a standout on both offense and defense for the Mustangs, leading the way to the 2014 and 2015 state Class A championships and the 2013 and 2015 CHSL titles.
Fans still recall her 20-point performance against arch-rival Farmington Hills Mercy in the 2014 state semi-final.
Holinski played varsity four years. Marian went 68-7 over the last three.
Off the court, she was seriously studious. After grades 1-6 at St. Michael the Archangel in Livonia (the family’s home parish), she attended Frost Middle School for its grades 7-8 program designed specifically for students of high ability and high achievement.
Holinski selected Marian for what she cited as having “a rigorous” academic curriculum. She carried a 4.35 average.
She volunteered at various parish activities, such as the Peanut Butter and Jelly Project providing food and clothing to the needy and at summer vacation Bible school.
She chose the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), often ranked as among the world's top universities. “I wanted the most rigorous (there’s that word again) school I could find” for her intended majors, chemical engineering and computer science.
She followed a parallel program of athletics, academics and Christian-centered community service.
“I loved MIT, the overall social experience,” Holinski said. “Managing my time was important. Marian super prepared me.”
Holinski made an immediate impact in basketball. In her intercollegiate debut against Johnson State, she scored 19 points, five rebounds, and four assists. She led MIT to the 2018 and 2019 New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference championship titles, the first in school history.
She set seven school records and is on the top 10 career list in eight other categories.
Holinski won a slew of honors including Rookie of the Year, All-America Third Team, All-Conference First Team, and Conference Academic Team, many of these repeatedly.
She played on the varsity all four years and in all 107 games of her MIT career, starting in 106. The one game she didn’t start was Senior Night. There were six graduating seniors and Holinski volunteered to sit out first.
Holinski graduated with a GPA of 4.95.
One of two important community services she participated in was Amphibious Achievement, a dual aquatic sports and college-preparatory mentorship program for inner-city Boston Public Schools students.
The other was Sitters Without Borders, offering free to low-cost weekly babysitting services to low-income parents attending college in the greater Boston area.
Holinski spent her summers in varied internship programs, which she described as “transformative.”
Among them was with a biopharmaceutical company in the Boston area focusing on developing and commercializing therapies for the treatment of women's health and endocrine diseases; formulating a 3M product to help hospital employees eliminate the spread of infections; and at the Langer Laboratories at MIT researching the development of HIV drug delivery systems.
About mid-August, Holinski will report as a product manager for Schmidt Futures, a nonprofit in New York City that was founded by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt to use technology and artificial intelligence to bring about solutions to the most pressing challenges facing humanity.
“I’m very excited,” Holinski said. She’s particularly interested in women’s health issues.
Before that new phase in her life begins, however, Holinski is taking “a big exhale” via a tour of Europe and Asia.
Four years ago, I wrote I was intrigued when she said her life’s goal was to “make a positive impact.” I’m more so now.
Note: log on to chsl.com for more about the CHSL Hall of Fame event.
Contact Don Horkey at [email protected].