Nick Hollenkamp remembers his mother driving from Dayton, Ohio, to watch Nick’s daughter Caroline’s first soccer game.
The then-5-year-old Caroline didn’t do anything memorable in that game. In fact, she didn’t do much of anything, period.
“The funniest thing I remember is Caroline’s first game when she was 5 or whatever, my mom came over to watch, and (Caroline) stood there and never kicked the ball,” Nick Hollenkamp said. “She just stood the whole time. She just kind of gradually caught on.”
Fortunately for the Hollenkamps and the Columbus North girls soccer team, Caroline is much more active these days. She’s a starting center midfielder as a freshman for the Bull Dogs, who won a regional title last week and will play in today’s Evansville Semistate.
But Caroline won’t be the only Hollenkamp playing for North today. Her brother, junior Eric “Rico” Hollenkamp, will play for the Bull Dog boys team in the Jeffersonville Semistate.
“It’s very exciting,” said their mother, Kim Hollenkamp. “I think it’s a dream-come-true for both kids. I never thought this would happen. I’m thrilled that they’ve gotten this far.”
The North girls, ranked No. 20 in Class 2A will play No. 4 Brebeuf Jesuit in the regional semifinals at 10 a.m. (9 a.m. CST) at Evansville Central High School. If the Bull Dogs win, they would play Franklin Central or 2A No. 12 Terre Haute North at 7 p.m. for a berth in next week’s state title game.
Roughly two hours away at Jeffersonville, the Columbus North boys will take on 2A No. 9 Evansville Memorial at noon. If the Bull Dogs win, they would face Perry Meridian or 2A No. 4 North Central at 7 p.m., also for a berth in the state title game.
“I think it’s great,” Nick said. “I think it’s exciting. This is Rico’s third year, and he didn’t make it his first two years, so it’s a step further, and he’s excited. He has a good team. They both have good teams.”
Like Caroline, Rico is a starting center midfielder. He leads the boys team with nine assists and ranks second with six goals.
Rico was happy to atone for a shootout loss to Bloomington South in the regional final his freshman year by beating East Central 3-1 in last week’s regional final.
“We set a goal at the start of the season, and this is kind of to be expected from the boys side at least,” Rico said. “We always want to get to semistate, and we don’t really feel accomplished unless we get at least this far. So it’s a really good feeling.”
Meanwhile, Caroline is one of only three North girls to play in all 19 games. She has two goals and two assists.
The girls team has won six in a row, including a 2-1 regional final win against Floyd Central.
“I thought that as the season progressed, we came together, and our team started becoming really good,” Caroline said. “The (Brebeuf) team is definitely going to be really tough, and it’s going to be a hard challenge for us and we need to push through.”
With the teams playing more than 100 miles apart today, that leaves a dilemma as to where they parents might go. Kim Hollenkamp said she likely would go to Rico’s game since he’s older.
Nick also said he will probably go to Rico’s game since he’s older. But he hasn’t ruled out going to Evansville and watching the first 20 minutes of Caroline’s game in Evansville, then driving to Jeffersonville to see most of Rico’s game.
“We’re kind of used to it because we’ve both played all these years,” Rico said. “I’d have a tournament in Ohio, and she’d have one up in Indy or something. Of course we’ve watched each other, but most of the time, we’re in two separate places.”
Nick played at the Dayton suburb of Centerville and a little bit at USC. Nick and Kim’s oldest son, Nicholas, played at Columbus East and University of Chicago.
“Caroline and Eric have grown up on the soccer field watching their older brother, and it’s kind of in their blood,” Kim said. “Their dad played from when he was 6 years old, so it’s kind of all we have ever done is play soccer. So it’s no surprise that they’re both varsity starters from freshman year on and that they got here.”
The Columbus North boys and girls soccer teams both will be playing in the semistate today:
10 a.m.: Perry Meridian (11-3-1) vs. North Central (17-1-3)
Noon: Columbus North (15-5-1) vs. Evansville Memorial (16-4-1)
7 p.m.: Championship
at Evansville Central
9 a.m. CST (10 a.m. EST): Columbus North (13-2-4) vs. Brebeuf Jesuit (20-1-1)
11 a.m. CST (noon EST): Franklin Central (12-4-2) vs. Terre Haute North (18-2-1)
6 p.m. CST (7 p.m. EST): Championship