Though she didn't grow up playing sports like her husband, Lori Holtmann recognizes the impact kindness and teamwork can have on everyone— athletes, fans, and families alike. It’s something that was impressed on her early in life, and one of the things that has made her such a terrific “team mom” to the men’s basketball team at The Ohio State University for the past five seasons.
“The Columbus community is filled with really generous, giving, thoughtful people.”
“A welcoming hospitality was one of the biggest ways that giving was demonstrated as I grew up,” Lori said. “It’s something that comes really naturally to me now, and I know that’s why—because that was modeled by my grandparents and my parents.”
Lori and her husband, Chris, met while both were working at Taylor University in central Indiana, she in student development and he as an assistant basketball coach.
“Early on, he told me his favorite Martin Luther King quote was ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’’” she said. “That’s always been a point of connection for us and we both share that conviction.”
A native of Gaithersburg, Maryland, Lori’s parents were both teachers, a path she thought she would also follow until halfway through college, when she switched to the student development side, getting her master’s degree in higher education. Chris was raised in Lexington, Kentucky, where his love of basketball grew right along with him. His talent took him first to Brescia College for two years, and then to Taylor University, where he played his final two seasons.
Chris’ coaching career, which kicked off at his alma mater in 1997, has taken the family, which includes the couple’s daughter, to Indiana, Ohio, and North Carolina, eventually leading him to Ohio State, where he has served as head men’s basketball coach since 2017.
Chris and Lori established the Chris and Lori Holtmann Foundation, a Donor Advised Fund at The Columbus Foundation, in 2018. Through their fund, the Holtmanns have helped numerous local nonprofit organizations including Mid-Ohio Food Collective, A Kid Again, Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, and other causes that are meaningful to them.
In response to the devastating tornadoes that swept through Chris’ home state of Kentucky in 2021, the Holtmann’s awarded a $50,000 grant to the American Red Cross, Bluegrass Region. The couple also emphasizes education through their philanthropy by funding scholarships and programs at the various colleges and universities that have made an impact on them.
Recognizing the value of being part of a team and the importance of access to youth sports in our community, the couple partnered with Columbus Recreation and Parks to refurbish a basketball court at Feddersen Community Center on Columbus’ northeast side. Chris and Lori hope it is the first of many— Joan Park is next up and should be completed in the spring of 2023— and that it can be a way for young people, potentially the superstars of the future, to have safe places to play.
“Team sports provide so many opportunities for young people to learn and grow,” Chris said. “Because of this, partnering with Columbus Recreation and Parks to create as many safe and inviting basketball courts as quickly as possible is very exciting to me. Playing endless basketball games on courts just like these when I was growing up helped make me the person and coach I am today. So, it’s a great honor for us to work alongside our local communities in this way.