When a good friend said to Holly Oslander in 8th grade, “You should try basketball, you’re so nice and tall,” that was all it took to get her to try the sport. Before long, basketball became her passion.
As an athlete at North Branford High School during the years of 1985-1989, Holly was part of extremely successful volleyball and basketball programs. In volleyball, Holly was selected to the All-Shoreline League first team four times for her play at middle blocker and she was also a 3-time team MVP and 3-time All-State 1st team selection. Her success in basketball was even more impressive; however, as she led her team in stats and in overall wins.
At 6-3, Holly dominated the paint at center. Her hard work on both the offensive and defensive ends set several records that have yet to be broken at North Branford High School. She scored 1,382 career points, set the career rebound record at 825, and established the career blocks record with 568. Her single season records are just as impressive – a single season scoring record of 534, rebound record of 326 and single season blocks record of 179!
As if those stats weren’t impressive enough, Holly led her team to 3 State Championship titles in 1986, 1987 and 1989 and she was named MVP of the tournament in her senior year. Her teams also earned 3 Shoreline League titles (1987, 88, 89) and set a state record 53 game winning streak. In her four years of play, her team won 106 games and lost only four times. Holly was All-State and All-League several times and she was also named as the New Haven Register All-Area MVP in 1988 and 1989. She was chosen as a Converse All-American in 1989 and also was bestowed with USA Today Player of the Year and CT Referees Association Player of the Year honors in 1989.
One of Holly’s favorite memories from her senior season was when her team won their 3rd state championship, which was also when she broke the high school record for scoring for boys and girls. Friends threw records onto the court when the record was broken. The game had to be stopped to sweep the broken record pieces off the floor. Those friends then collected the broken pieces, put them in the record sleeve and gave them to Holly at the end of the game…Holly’s own personal "trophy" from her "fans." It was the perfect way for Holly to end her high school career, surrounded by so many friends and family and the team she loved so much.
It was no surprise that Holly went on to find even more success as a scholarship athlete at Syracuse University in New York. As a center for the Syracuse Orange, Oslander continued to break records and set new benchmarks for success. At the end of her four-year career, Oslander became 3rd all time in career points, 1st all-time in blocked shots, with the most blocks in one game at 13. She was also 5th all-time in rebounds and set a record for most 20+ point games and most points scored in a game (39). She was a member of the first ever All Big-East team to play in Finland and Sweden and she was an All-Big East selection in 1991.
After graduating from Syracuse with a degree in psychology, Oslander served as an assistant coach at Quinnipiac College before she married and traveled as her husband played in the NFL. Despite the busy schedule, Holly continued to coach basketball in Florida and in Maryland. She started a new program at West Boca Raton Community High School and served as Head Women’s Basketball Coach from 2004-2007. While there, Oslander led her team to two District Championships in 2005-06 and 2006-07 and in 2007, she was named Palm Beach County Coach of the Year. Since 2007, Holly has been coaching her daughter’s Elite AAU team in Maryland, earning the State Championship in 2008 and the runners up spot in 2009. She has also coached her youngest son’s travel team for three years and her daughter’s travel team -- which has won five league championships.
Holly currently resides in Maryland with her husband and fellow Syracuse alum, retired NFL player Qadry Ismail, and their three children, Qalea, Qadry and Qadir. She was recently inducted into the Connecticut Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2009 and is excited to join the 2011 class of Connecticut Basketball Hall of Fame inductees.