Photo courtesy of Montana State Sports Information Department
WHITEFISH, Mont. – Sonny Holland will receive the Ron ‘Swede’ Kenison Memorial Award at the Carroll (Mont.)-Dickinson State (N.D.) football game, Saturday, Oct. 12.
Holland served as Frontier Conference commissioner from 1981-1995, the longest tenure of any commissioner. The award is the league’s highest award.
“In looking back, it is no wonder that Sonny was abundantly successful as an athlete, instructor, coach and commissioner,” Frontier Conference commissioner Kent Paulson said. “He could inspire people to want to make themselves better, to be the best that they can be. The Frontier Conference is what it is today because of people like Allyn “Sonny” Holland.”
Sonny Holland’s entrance into the Frontier Conference was a short but very memorable one. Holland took over the football coaching reins from Hall of Famer Casey Keltz in the fall of 1969.
The Bulldogs under Holland went 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the Frontier Conference. The Bulldogs claimed the conference crown, Holland was named Coach of the Year and 12 Western players earned all-conference honors including 11 first team selections.
In addition to his football head coaching duties, Holland was also an assistant professor of education and taught a freshman psychology class and a football techniques class.
“In the fall of 1969 as a freshman at Western Montana College I had the good fortune of taking general psychology from an instructor by the name of Allyn “Sonny” Holland,” Paulson said. “Now to get ANY freshman up to attend an early morning class let alone a psychology class was a feat all of it’s own. Not only did you WANT to be there but you couldn’t wait till the next class met that week. This man could get your blood pumping, your heart pounding!”
“I really enjoyed my time at Western,” Holland said. “It was a great experience! ”
After his season at Western, Holland returned to his alma mater Montana State (MSU) where he led the Bobcats to a 47-27-1 record, two Big Sky Conference championships and the 1976 NCAA Division II championship. As a Bobcat player, Holland was a threetime All-American. He was inducted into the Bobcat Hall of Fame and was voted by MSU fans as the school’s greatest football player of all time.