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Former Alma star Hold (Ray) still passionate about running 8/31/22

Former Alma star Hold (Ray) still passionate about running

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 


Rachel Ray still embraces the same traits she had while running hurdles for Zach Jones almost eight years ago — up early, work hard, be accountable.


Except for a new last name (Ray married her college sweetheart, Morgan Hold, in the fall of 2018), the girl who set records for the Alma Lady Airedales track team in 2014-15 is still as driven as ever. 


“I do run, (but) I do long-distance running more,” she said. “My coaches. Zach and Kathy Jones in Alma, and my coaches in college (Missouri Southern), are still important to me.”


Rachel, who now answers to Dr. Rachel Hold, took a job as a physical therapist with Total Rehabilitation Inc. following her required seven years of education — four at Missouri Southern (Joplin, Mo.) and three understudy years at Missouri State University in Springfield. 


"Track is a very different sport. It's a team event when you come into team events and conference and state. but it's also very individual,” Hold said. “My specific effort and hard work affects everyone as a whole. That's taught me a lot of responsibility ... to stick to what I'm going to go through.”


Hold completed in multiple track events while at Missouri Southern, whose track seasons are broken down into two groups — the indoor season and the outdoor season. 


“Being involved in track, I knew I always wanted to work with athletes and work in health care,” Hold said. “I see patients from 8 to 5. I see patients following surgery, amputations, Parkinson's, and strokes. I see a wide variety.”


Her eight-hour day is a whirlwind that nicely meshes with her radiant personality. 


“I’m a big people-person,” Hold said. “One thing is, you meet people in vulnerable moments in their life. Each day is different with a wide variety of different activities. Every hour I’m working with completely different diagnoses — a baseball player with a shoulder injury, working with geriatric patients, and then something different the next hour. 


“It’s a quick pace and has a wide array of knowledge to treat every patient.”


Hold has remained active in her own time, too. 


“If I don’t run, I do a lot of cycling, and if I can’t do that, I do spin classes,” Hold said. “As a physical therapist, I do a lot of lifting.”


A 2015 graduate who earned valedictorian honors, Hold was the type of athlete who didn’t let any obstacles obscure her vision. 


“Everything she does, she does it 100 percent,” remembers her former high school coach, the aforementioned Zach Jones. “She wasn’t born a great athlete, but she decided she wanted to be a great athlete. 


“That’s why she was so easy to coach. You just told her what to do, and she would get better.”


Hold’s first unofficial meet took place when she was at Alma Intermediate School. Her uncle, longtime Van Buren track coach Rod Ray, allowed her to tag along with her older cousins, former Pointers Zach and Quinton Ray. 


Hold did this as a third- and fourth-grader. 


“ When I was there (AHS), we were still in the process of building the track team,” Hold said. “It was a big family; everyone was so supportive. College was very similar. 


“With track, you have such a variety. I think that was the most memorable part for me.”


She’s done great things off the field, too. 


In 2019, in her final year of studies at Missouri Southern State University, Hold discovered a cadaver lab while dissecting her patient’s abdomen. Uncertain of what she was identifying, Ray asked her professor, only to find out that what she was looking at had never been defined. 


The discovery has a new name, too — the Rayctus Oblique. 


“Working in Fort Smith, it's so nice to be back home, after spending so much time in Joplin and Springfield,” Hold said. “Fort Smith still has a small-town feel to it. It's easier to know everyone.”


“We stayed in touch, especially when she was in college,” added Jones. “Heck, they named a muscle after her.


“That’s her work ethic — to be the best.”