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A Custom Fit

More than 130 years since its founding, Holick’s Manufacturing Company stands as a testament to the immeasurable legacy left by Aggie boot craftsman Joseph Holick.


When customers first step inside Holick’s, its initial simplicity can be deceiving. But a treat lies hidden in its vibrant, backroom workshop, where the smell of leather and the mechanical whirring of aged but well-loved machinery create a rhythmic pulse that fills the walls with energy.

Known throughout Aggieland for making the iconic Corps of Cadets senior boots, Holick’s Manufacturing Company has witnessed Texas A&M University grow from a small college to the thriving institution it is today.

College Station would not be the same without the impact left by the Holick family. But when 16-year-old Joseph Holick embarked for America in search of a better life, he never imagined leaving such a long-standing legacy.

If the Shoe Fits

When Holick’s feet first touched Brazos County soil in 1891, he realized he was in the wrong place. With an original destination of Orange, Texas, the 22-year-old Czech immigrant had accidentally fallen asleep on his journey and awoken to find his train car disconnected at the Bryan depot.

While Holick was working as a part-time shoemaker in Bryan, he was offered a job as bootmaker and bugler for the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas’ Corps of Cadets. Enthusiastic about music, Holick suggested Texas A&M start a military band in 1893, inadvertently inspiring the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band we know today. Given his musical talent and passion, he was an obvious choice for the group’s first bandmaster—a role he donned intermittently over the years.

Concurrently, Holick continued crafting short, lace-up boots for the Corps out of a small wooden shed on campus. When Holick and Sons Boot Shop moved to its original Northgate location in 1929, the bootmaker had enough space to produce the tall senior boots introduced into uniforms during World War I.

Ever since, the basic process of Aggie bootmaking has endured, as he trained his sons and apprentices to make Holick’s boots reliable, stylish and an integral part of Corps tradition.

New Age, Same Boots

In 1971, 103-year-old Joseph Holick passed away, leaving his beloved business in the hands of his son, Johnnie. When an energetic 21-year-old with a passion for bootmaking walked into the shop 20 years later, Johnnie knew he wanted the youngster as his apprentice.

Leo Belovoskey Jr. trained with Johnnie, learning the bootmaking process just as Johnnie had learned from his father. Following Johnnie’s passing in 2002, his daughters sold the business to his protégé in 2005. Shortly after, Belovoskey relocated Holick’s to a property in Westgate Plaza due to rising rent prices on Northgate.

Since 2006, Belovoskey has seen thousands of cadets come through his shop, their eyes lighting up as they get measured, try on their boots for the first time or leave with their prized pair.

“When I was in high school, I wasn’t anyone special,” Belovoskey said, with tears in his eyes. “Then suddenly, I’m deeply rooted in a Texas A&M tradition where cadets see me as this legendary craftsman. I’m honored. At the same time, I’m in awe.”

As for the future, Holick’s will maintain its famed tradition and detailed handiwork, carefully crafting the distinctive boots every cadet is eager to earn.

“As long as the Corps needs boots, there will be business,” Belovoskey concluded. “I have the best job in town because I get to witness the Corps journey. On the walk to the measurement chair, something happens, and the cadets almost glow—that is a special feeling.”

On the walk to the measurement chair, something happens, and the cadets almost glow — that is a special feeling.”

The Making of an aggie boot

Side Lap

A buckle secures this piece of leather around the cadet’s calf.

Back Stay

This seam brings the boot together. When the back stay is attached, closing the barrel, the boot is “born.” This “birthday” is inscribed on the inside of the barrel alongside the cadet’s name, forever memorializing the boot’s date of completion.

Spur Stop

This small piece of leather provides a place for the senior’ s spurs to rest without sagging or wearing down the counter.


An essential component of any shoe, the heels of Aggie boots uniquely feature metallic taps, which seniors use to announce their presence and to slide around on slick floors, per tradition.


Arguably the most customized part of the boot, the vamp is tailored to fit the distinctive arch of a cadet’s foot, using numerous measurements to achieve an exact fit.


Connecting the barrel and vamp is the tongue, which curves up to offer forward support and stability at the ankle joint. This section of the boot was once made with laces but has shifted over time as the boots have adapted to current styles and practicalities.


The most iconic part of the boot, the barrel snugly fits a cadet’s calves in a smooth,red-brown leather over their boot pants.

Toe Box

Customized to accommodate a cadet’s unique toe shape, the toe box retains its distinctive point while simultaneously allowing for comfortable all-day wear.