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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Chancellor John Sharp during a Board of Regents meeting discussing the appointmet of interim dean Mark Welsh and discussion of a McElroy settlement on Sunday, July 30, 2023 in the Memorial Student Center.
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Crafting a tradition

Crafting+a+tradition+at+Holicks
Photo by By Mary Reyes
Crafting a tradition at Holick’s

In the Corps, senior boots, recognizable for their dark leather and the echo they leave with every step, are a cadet rite of passage. They represent, at a glance, three years of early-morning formations and hard work.  
Although seniors are able to purchase their boots from different suppliers, many cadets choose to receive theirs from Holick’s MFG Company. Joseph Holick, the founder of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band and first bandmaster, founded the business in 1891, according to the company’s website. 
Leo Belovoskey, boot maker at Holick’s, said the business began on the Quad when A&M invited Joseph Holick to live in the dorms and repair the cadets’ shoes. Afterward, Joseph Holick moved off campus to what is now Northgate. It became known as “Holick and Sons” after Johnnie Holick moved back to College Station from Austin to help his father in the production of senior boots.
Belovoskey said he began his career as a boot maker in 1991 with the assistance of his brother, who was getting measured for his own senior boots.
“They didn’t want to hire me and he just kept pushing it and pushing it so they just threw up their hands and said, ‘Hey, go get your brother, see if he wants to make boots,’ so I came down here and I met Johnnie Holick and he liked me and offered me a job and I’ve been here since then,” Belovoskey said.
The process for those receiving senior boots involves sizing, waiting, trying them on and then awaiting Final Review. For the two boot makers at Holick’s, it is a process of measurements, creating a pattern from those measurements, putting them together and building the boot around a “last,” which is a solid shoe-shaped mold.
“If I worked on one boot nonstop from the moment they got measured to the moment we finished, it would take about three to four days,” Belovoskey said.
The number of boots that Holick’s creates varies year to year, and depends also on whether a waitlist forms when juniors place their orders. Edwin Abrazado, cadet and telecommunication and media studies senior, said there are other manufacturers, such as Vogel, that may be suitable for those on Holick’s waitlist. Belovoskey said the sizing and fitting process still goes through Holick’s.
“I joke with people sometimes, ‘Yeah, I’m 48 years old but my hands are like 900 years old,’” Belovoskey said. “It’s just hard on the hands altogether.”
The day junior cadets go to Holick’s to try on their boots, and potentially take them back to the Quad, involves a mix of emotions. Ian Dorsa, cadet and molecular and cell biology junior, said Final Review, where junior Corps members wear their boots in public for the first time, will be a day of nostalgia and pride for him. 
“The moment I put those boots on and started stomping around, it began to dawn on me how much work I had done, how much time I had put in, how much sweat, blood and tears — all that good stuff,” Dorsa said. “It all came rushing back.”
The boots resemble each other in terms of leather, color and shape. However, seniors are able to add a personal touch with “butterflies,” or customizable strips of leather that feature different stamps ranging from company logos to a country’s flag. Cadets may also choose to opt out of spurs, which may wear away the metal tap on the bottom of the boots if too much sliding occurs. Dorsa said the opportunity to slide down ramps on the Quad is one of the activities most looked forward to when cadets receive their senior boots.
“I was joking around with some people about maybe putting some magnesium flakes in the taps so that when you slide it sparks,” Dorsa said.
The price of the boots can vary depending on the quality chosen. For Corps members that may be financially unable to purchase new boots, renting is available. Abrazado said the Corps Center offers a renting program through which old Aggies donate their senior boots for current cadets to borrow for the year.
Abrazado said jokingly that eliminating the risk of high-water pants, which occurred often with low quarters — the black, shiny shoes underclassmen wear — was a perk in receiving his senior boots. For him, the opportunity to reminisce on his journey through the Corps and to be a part of the A&M’s tradition was the thing he enjoyed most.
“It just makes you feel like a small piece of a bigger organization,” Abrazado said. “It’s definitely one of the best things about it and the tradition behind it all is pretty big.”
The tradition is one cadets look forward to for years, Belovoskey said. 
“It’s like their senior ring,” Belovoskey said. “They go through three years of the Corps to get their boots. It’s a privilege to wear them through their senior year. So it means about as much to them as your senior ring would mean to you. It’s a sense that you’re showing the world that you accomplished something.”
Holick’s has been part of the tradition since Joseph Holick moved to the Quad and started fixing cadets’ shoes. Since then, a business has formed around the tradition as many cadets decide to purchase Holick’s-made boots. Dorsa said the employees at Holick’s and the company itself understand the significance of creating the most visible symbol of the Corps.
Belovoskey said, although he enjoys the entire process, the finished product is the best part of boot making. To him, the desire to create something well made involves putting heart into the process and product.
 “When the boot is 100 percent complete and I hold it in my hands and I look at it and say to myself, ‘You made this.’ I enjoy that,” Belovoskey said.

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