(The following press release was submitted by the Wentzville School District.)
The jerseys of two Holt High School alumni were officially retired during the school’s Homecoming game on Friday, September 28th. With their families by their side, former Holt football player Dan Alexander (#38) and former Holt softball catcher Melissa Gentile (#4) were honored before hundreds of Indian fans during a special ceremony at Soby Field.
Alexander graduated from Holt in 1996 and was redshirted his first year at Nebraska where he went on to be a First Team All-Big 12 Conference linebacker/fullback. Alexander finished his career ranked 10th on Nebraska's all-time rushing list with 2,456 yards. He scored 20 rushing touchdowns and had 13 100-yard rushing games in his collegiate career, including seven in 2000.
Alexander was a sixth round draft pick by the Tennessee Titans in 2001 and went on to play for the Jaguars and Rams before spending time playing in the Arena Football league. He was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
While at Holt, Alexander lettered in football, wrestling and track and won the Missouri State title in wrestling his senior year. He played football for the late Coach Scott Swofford, whom he credits with much of his success on the field. Swofford’s wife Runa recalled how highly the coach had regarded Alexander.
“It didn’t matter if Daniel was in the classroom, at practice, in the weight room, or in a game; Daniel always gave 110 percent. It goes without saying that Daniel was deeply respected by his teachers, coaches, fellow teammates and students.” Alexander currently resides in Tennessee with his wife Amy and two young sons.
Gentile, who graduated in 1996, made a quick transition to collegiate ball at the University of Michigan where she tallied 59 hits (including six home runs) and 37 RBIs en route to the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year Award. Also as a freshman, Gentile was a member of the 1997 Women’s College World Series All-Tournament team.
It was during her sophomore season however, that Gentile carved her name into the record book. She batted .409 with 67 hits, a school-record 13 home runs and 57 RBIs, earning herself a catcher spot on the 1998 All-America second team. Gentile completed her tenure at Michigan as the program’s career home run leader (28) and ranked among the top 10 in RBIs (129).
Melissa was named the assistant coach at Central Michigan University in 2000 and held that position until 2002. She helped lead the Chippewa’s to 2 MAC Tournament championships and 2 NCAA Regional appearances, all while earning her Masters Degree in Athletic Administration. Gentile spent time as an assistant coach for Eastern Michigan University before taking the head coaching position at Jacksonville University in 2006.
Today, Gentile is a physical education teacher and head softball coach at Bloomingdale High School in Valrico, Florida.