FOXBORO (CBS) – On any given Sunday during Patriots season, you’ll find Linda Holliday high above Gillette Stadium cheering on the team and Head Coach Bill Belichick – her life partner for the last 12 years.
What kind of thoughts go through her mind during the tense hours leading up to kick-off? She loves taking in the atmosphere. “It’s breathtaking, isn’t it? From where I sit I have a direct view of Bill and the team benches.” Can she read the body language? “At times – the hard thing is being this far away, it’s hard to see expressions.”
“It is a second home,” Holliday laughs. “Maybe not as much for me as for Bill but (laughs) he might spend a few more hours here.”
Their partnership includes giving back – together. She is the Executive Director of the Bill Belichick Foundation, and they’ve been big supporters of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for the past eight years. “Both of those are near and dear to my heart,” Holliday says. “Besides the Patriots – those are my other two teams.”
Belichick has always sponsored scholarships for college football players from his high school in Annapolis, Maryland, but Holliday got the idea to go bigger. “For his 60th birthday, I said, you know – in lieu of gifts, why don’t we expand this? So we did.”
This year, the Belichick Foundation will give away $350,000 in grants and scholarships to youth football and lacrosse programs around the country. One recent raffle raised more than $30,000 and gave the winner access to be on the field with Belichick for a time before the Patriots vs. Bills game at Gillette Stadium, an experience Holliday finds never gets old. “It’s full of energy. The players are warming up on the field, The fans are yelling and screaming and they’re exciting, banners are being waved and the guy with the silver face is out there doing his part. So it’s electric, it’s vibrant!”
The money was raised with an Instagram photo of Belichick holding a sign that read “Be My VIP.” Holliday agrees it shows a softer side of the often stoic coach, but she knows another side most people don’t get to see. “It doesn’t take much to make him smile, actually, and I guess I’m happy that I’m able to share that through Instagram,” Holliday says.
Is she careful about what she shows or discloses on social media? “I try to show more of me,” she says, “I’m probably a little more protective of Bill, so I don’t really ask his permission or anything, but I do look at it as, you know – what’s Bill going to be ok with – before I post anything.”
As Executive Director, Holliday has been thrilled by the reach of the Foundation, pointing out “we have a Jamaican lacrosse team because they went to nationals this year, which is really exciting for them, and the Uganda lacrosse team which actually has a field called ‘The Belichick Field.’ But she’s happy to focus now on programs within the US. “It’s grown and it’s very manageable now, and maybe if Bill retires – and I say IF because I don’t think he ever will – but I think we’re at a good point right now.”
In April, Belichick and Holliday agreed to be the honorees together at Boston’s Hot Pink Party for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. He never hesitated when the invitation came: “In 12 years together, Bill has been so dynamic in supporting the causes that are close to me and just supporting me. I value and love that about him. We are just honored and privileged. This year alone over $8 million will be given and distributed to 40 different scientists in the New England area alone, $8 million, 40 different researchers in New England – that’s huge!”
Framed on the wall in her private suite at the Stadium is a portrait of Belichick, his arm raised in a wave, smiling up at Holliday. “That’s the wave!” she exclaims with a beaming smile. “You’ll see him glance up and he gives myself a wave, he gives his daughter who’s in another suite a wave.”
A reminder that at the end of every game – no matter the outcome – he’s thinking about the home team. “It’s kind of within the family, that makes you feel good, that you’re supporting him, and you saw the happiness from this win and the love he has for the game and for the family.”
Linda Holliday and Bill Belichick will be honored at the “Boston Hot Pink Party” for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation on April 23, 2019, at the InterContinental Hotel in Boston. For more information: bcrf.org