NewsKatie Holloway

A Journey That Paralleled Four Paralympic Medals Led Katie Holloway Bridge To Stanford Athletics

by Steve Goldberg

Katie Holloway Bridge celebrates after scoring a point at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016 on Sept. 12, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.


Helping people has always been in Katie Holloway Bridge’s DNA.
As a captain for the U.S. sitting volleyball team since 2017, she helped the U.S. defend its Paralympic gold medal from Rio with another last year in Tokyo. It was her fourth medal, after previously helping Team USA to silvers in Beijing and London.
Now 36 and expecting her first child this December, Holloway Bridge is taking her first extended break from volleyball since 2006. She’s also embracing her professional nirvana, having now passed her one-year anniversary of working in the Stanford athletic department, where she helps student athletes make the most of their opportunities as the assistant director for name, image and likeness (NIL) services.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Whether on the court or in the workplace, Holloway Bridge has never let her disability define her.
In high school, she had played both basketball and volleyball with a prosthetic foot, her normal since before the age of 2 when her lower right leg was amputated due to a condition called fibular hemimelia, essentially born without a fibula.
A native of Lake Stevens Washington, she went on to play basketball at California State University, Northridge, where she was a four-year letterwinner and the first female amputee to play the sport at the NCAA Division I level.
She had chosen the school because the coaches promised they would treat her like the rest of her teammates. By karmic chance, CSUN had a longstanding relationship with the U.S. sitting volleyball team, and Holloway Bridge learned of the sport when the team came to campus for a training camp in February 2006.
“At the time I was in basketball season,” Holloway Bridge recalled. “My athletic trainer asked me to go meet the girls because he had taken care of some of them in the training room.”
One thing led to another, and eventually the volleyball coaches reached out to invite her to a training camp. Holloway Bridge had been aware of adaptive and Paralympic sport, but as she was playing able-bodied sports her whole life, the need wasn’t there. Her coaches encouraged her to give it a shot.
“This was definitely a unique opportunity in that my (CSUN) coaching staff saw way more potential than I would have ever seen at the time for myself, which was opening myself up to playing a sport with people with disabilities,” she said.
Another aspect of her time at CSUN was serving as a mentor to younger student-athletes, something she enjoyed as she worked towards a bachelor’s degree in sociology. It was a rewarding experience that would influence later decisions.
“After I got done with undergraduate (studies in 2008), my next step was Oklahoma to train for volleyball,” Holloway Bridge said. “It was also, ‘What am I going to do next with my life?’
“Based on my experiences with a lot of the Paralympic Movement, in being asked to teach sitting volleyball to different groups, a lot of which was to injured service members, I was influenced to move into recreation therapy, which was my masters (program) at Oklahoma State.”

Katie Holloway Bridge walks as the Team USA flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony of the Pan American Games Lima 2019 on Aug. 23, 2019 in Lima, Peru.


After earning her master’s degree, she returned to California to work as a recreational therapist with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at the Palo Alto VA Health Care System. First, for about two years as a recreational therapist where she worked directly with patients, and then for another five or so as an employee fitness and wellness coordinator, more of an administrative position. In all, she spent just over seven and a half years with the VA.
As an athlete who knows the zone when she is in it, the situation was good, but it wasn’t great.
“A couple of years ago, I tried to redefine my career and realized, after working on the athletes advisory councils via the USOPC and USA Volleyball, that I really enjoyed working with athletes,” she said.
Through the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s ACE program — Athlete Career and Education — she identified a career coach named Dani Manning. Together they did personality tests and other assessments to determine what the ideal next step would be in Holloway Bridge’s career, “and we walked towards that,” she said.
“That program allowed me the career coaching, and Dani walked me through mock interviews to resume writing to informational interviews, all those skills needed to acquire whatever’s next,” Holloway Bridge said.
Along the way Holloway Bridge determined college sports, rather than pro, would be the best fit.
During this time, Holloway Bridge left the VA and worked remote internships with both San Diego State and San Jose State as also she prepared for the delayed Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
She says the environment at San Diego State was robust and that she worked with a program called Aztecs Going Pro, where she co-instructed a class with the student-athlete development coordinator that focused on career and leadership development, and a little bit on the emerging NIL space as it became a thing.
Like most Team USA athletes heading to Tokyo, Holloway-Bridge signed up for the Opendorse NIL platform and said a few deals came her way, including Toyota and speaking engagements.
Now her passion to help student-athletes has found a home at Stanford as she helps pilot both athletes and potential sponsors through the intricacies of the brave new world of NIL.
“This year I’ve learned a lot, more so probable on NCAA compliance rules and regulations than anything” she said. “Though NIL is a new landscape, there are still a lot of rules that apply in the NCAA compliance area, so that has been the biggest learning curve. Something she says is further complicated by state laws and school policies. It is a puzzle that you put together once you get the information of the deal.” 
“You need someone to help guide you through it.”
In basketball, volleyball and real life, Holloway Bridge is there to make the assist.

The chief press officer for the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games, Steve Goldberg covered every summer Paralympic Games from Sydney 2000 through Rio 2016 for various newspapers, magazines and online media. He is a freelance contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.