CWU's Holtman, WWU's Dykstra On NCAA Tribute Team
Holtman-Fletcher (center) is now the head softball coach at her alma mater after a storied playing career.
Holtman-Fletcher (center) is now the head softball coach at her alma mater after a storied playing career.
Grant Dykstra (left) ranks seventh in career scoring in GNAC history with 1,844 points.
Grant Dykstra (left) ranks seventh in career scoring in GNAC history with 1,844 points.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS - In celebration of the 40th anniversary of NCAA Division II, 48 former student-athletes are set to be honored by the NCAA throughout 2013. Developed through a partnership with the Division II Conference Commissioners Association, the 40th Anniversary Tribute team highlights one male and one female from each of the division’s 23 current conferences, plus two at-large nominees.

Among the honorees are Grant Dykstra of Western Washington and Mallory Holtman-Fletcher of Central Washington.

“This group of former student-athletes is meant to reflect the core values of Division II athletics,” said Josh Looney, associate director of Division II. “Commissioners have helped identify a diverse group of championship individuals from Division II’s 40-year history. Not only did these former student-athletes act as champions in athletics and in the classroom, they’ve gone on to live championship lives as well.

“This group is a true representation of Division II’s commitment to providing its student-athletes a ‘Life in the Balance’ that extends beyond athletics.”

Division II gained its own unique intercollegiate athletics identity when Divisions I, II and III were formalized during a special NCAA Convention held in 1973.  Prior to 1973, the NCAA was organized into two divisions––“University” and “College.”

The year-long 40th anniversary celebration will feature a number of initiatives branded by Division II’s tradition, history and community influence. A special 40th Anniversary highlight video was unveiled to Division II membership during the 2013 NCAA Convention, officially kicking off the celebration.

Each member of the Division II 40th Anniversary Tribute team will receive a commemorative 40th Anniversary gift and is slated to have his/her accomplishments profiled through Division II media channels.

Conferences were asked to submit a list of nominees representative of Division II’s ideals. The only requirement was that nominees exhausted their athletics eligibility within the past 40 years and attended a college or university active in Division II.

Grant Dykstra

Dykstra survived life-threatening accident to become Vikings’ career scoring leader 

Grant Dykstra was named winner of the 2006 V Foundation Comeback Award, the first non-Division I student-athlete to earn the honor, and the 2005 United States Basketball Writers Association Most Courageous Award while setting the school’s career scoring record. He survived a life-threatening childhood accident that nearly cost him his right arm.

A 6-foot-4 forward from Everson, Wash., and a graduate of Lynden Christian High School, Dykstra finished as WWU's career scoring leader with 1,844 points, and was a consensus NCAA II All-American as a senior in 2005-06.

That season, Dykstra averaged 20.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.0 steals, setting a school record for 3-point makes with 101 as the Vikings went 23-7 and reached the West Regional final of the NCAA II National Tournament. He shot 50.6 percent from the field, including 43.7 percent from 3-point range and 84.5 percent at the free throw line. His 3.4 3-point makes a game ranked ninth nationally in NCAA II, and he was 16th in 3-point percentage.

Dykstra was the Daktronics West Region Player of the Year for 2005-06, being the only unanimous choice and repeater on the regional all-star team. He also earned first-team GNAC all-star honors for the second straight year and was named to the West Regional all-tournament team.

Dykstra started every game of his four-year WWU career, and in addition to his scoring mark, finished fourth in school history in career assists with 404, sixth in rebounds with 576 and seventh in steals with 210.

Dykstra's right arm was mangled in a grain auger when he was two and required 16 surgeries over the next 10 years and countless hours of physical therapy to regain strength and movement in the arm, which is five inches shorter than his left. He taught himself to shoot a basketball left-handed and learned to dribble with either hand.

After earning a bachelor's degree in business administration and finance at WWU in 2006, Dykstra is now in his seventh year as a Commercial Loan Officer at Whatcom Educational Credit Union in Bellingham. He also is a youth league coach.  He and wife, Tara, have four children: sons Griffin 8, Gannon 6, Gunnar 4, and daughter Tyra 2.

Mallory Holtman-Fletcher

One of the most accomplished players in the history of Central Washington University softball, Mallory Holtman-Fletcher has carried the success from her days as a student-athlete into the coaching realm at her alma mater.

A double graduate of CWU (B.S., 2008; M.S., 2010), Holtman-Fletcher became the first player in Great Northwest Athletic Conference history to be named to the all-conference first team all four seasons. She culminated her career with GNAC Player of the Year honors as a senior in 2008. She finished with a career .365 batting average, 35 home runs, 128 runs batted in, and 206 hits.

Holtman-Fletcher’s final season may have been highlighted as much, if not more, by a singular act of sportsmanship that earned her national and international attention and recognition when she carried an injured opponent, Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon University, around the bases after she had hit a home run.

In 2008, she was the recipient of an ESPY Award for “Best Sports Moment”, while adding numerous other awards that also included the NCAA’s Sportsmanship Award and the AT&T National Sportsmanship Award. Nearly five years later, Holtman-Fletcher is still a renowned speaker at campuses nationwide where she speaks about sportsmanship.

Since concluding her playing career at CWU, Holtman-Fletcher has transitioned into the coaching ranks, where she has helped the Wildcat program put itself on the West Region map in the NCAA Division II.               

As a graduate assistant coach for two seasons, Holtman-Fletcher helped CWU shatter previous single-season school records for batting average (.337), runs scored (312), and home runs (50) during her final season as an assistant in 2010. The Wildcats also earned their first-ever GNAC title and appearance in the NCAA Division II playoffs that season, where they lost to eventual national champion Hawaii Pacific University.

On July 30, 2010, Holtman-Fletcher was named to be the third head coach in the program’s history, succeeding her former coach, the legendary Dr. Gary Frederick.

In her first season as head coach in 2011, she guided the Wildcats to a second consecutive GNAC championship and appearance in the NCAA Division II playoffs at Chico, Calif. CWU improved upon its single-season record for runs scored (329) and home runs (73), leading the NCAA Division II in the latter category.

Two players from that team – Kelsey Haupert and Samantha Petrich – whom Holtman-Fletcher had helped recruit while a graduate assistant, earned first-team All-American status.

In two seasons as the Wildcats’ head coach, Holtman-Fletcher owns a 53-45 overall record. The White Salmon, Wash., native has been a part of all five winning seasons in the program’s 20-year history – the first two as a player and the latter three as a graduate assistant or head coach.

Holtman-Fletcher lives in Ellensburg, Wash., with her husband, Ryan, and one-year-old son Braxton.