To appreciate how far Austin Holloway has come as a football player, a little juxtaposition is in order.
Ask him the question, ‘How do you feel you’ve improved over the years,’ and he’ll take you back to a defining sophomore moment.
Holloway was leading his Eastside Eagles against St. Pius X in the second round of the Class AAAA playoffs. It was right after halftime, and Eastside was hanging tough with the eventual state runners up. A quick second half opening drive score would infuse Eastside with the confidence it needed to upend its favorited opponents.
And then they called “Eagle.”
“It was a 10-yard stop route,” Holloway recalls. “It was a simple throw. I just overthrew him and their corner picked it.”
From there, St. Pius went on to a 52-20 victory, which left Holloway stewing a bit about what could’ve been if not for the errant throw.
Since then, Holloway and his Eastside teammates have run Eagle repeatedly.
“We do the same play now,” he said. “Each time I remember me missing that throw, and so now I just continue to hit it over and over again.”
That one play is just an icon, if you will, that represents Holloway’s growth. He’s able to complete that throw with ease now because of how the game has drastically slowed down for him. A credit, Holloway says, to assistance of his coaches and teammates.
“Our offensive coordinator coach Cawthon, every time I get off the field, I’m going over to the sidelines and putting on the headset and talking with him about what I’m seeing out there,” Holloway said. “It’s things like that where I’ve learned a lot about the game and it makes things slower and easier to read out there.”
And it’s just like Holloway to give all the credit to coaches, teammates, virtually everyone except himself. That’s what helps him to keep accolades such as being named, 2016 The Covington News Player of the Year in perspective.
“I mean, I appreciate it, and it’s definitely an honor for me to get this far and to get these kinds of achievements,” he said. “But I couldn’t do anything without these other guys around me. My teammates and my coaches, they’ve all put me in the situations I’ve been in to be successful. All I have to do is just put it on the field.”
It’s that camaraderie Holloway says he’ll miss most, now that his football playing days at Eastside are done.
“It’s been an honor to play with these guys,” he said. “A bunch of us have played as freshmen and have been on the field together for a long time. The bond and chemistry we have is like none other. The relationships you get and friendships in football are like no other game.”
Holloway, a senior, still has a baseball season to complete before all is said and done at Eastside. He’ll move on next year to Georgia College where he signed a baseball scholarship in November. And though baseball is his bread and butter, Holloway knows he’ll be missing the gridiron once Fall rolls around again.
“There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “I’ll definitely miss the game. I love baseball, but football is a totally different game that brings out a totally different side of you, from competitiveness to just how you handle adversity. The two-a-days, the workouts, the mental toughness. It’s all going to help me, not just in baseball, but in life.”
A closer look at the POY
Beyond talking about his season and his award, Holloway shared a few extra tidbits about himself as our player of the year.
Favorite Athlete: “Growing up, it was always Chipper Jones who I looked up to. Then when he retired, it’s Mike Trout.”
Favorite Team: “Definitely the Atlanta Braves, and of course the Atlanta Falcons.”
Hardest Moment as an Athlete: “Well, during my freshman year, I made Team USA for baseball. Then I went back my sophomore year and tried out and didn’t make it. That was a big part of my learning to get through adversity. Then earlier this season I sprained my ACL in the Alcovy game and had to sit out against Loganville. That was pretty tough too.”
Favorite Food: “Pizza. I could live off of pepperoni pizza.
Favorite Song: “I listen to all kinds, from rap to country. I usually listen to rap before a football game to get me real hype. I probably had some Lil’ Wayne playing before our last game.”
Current GPA: “I have a 4.0.”
Non-Sports Goals: “I’m going to Georgia College to major in Chemistry, and I think I’d like to be a pharmacist.”
Favorite Non-Sports Hobbies: “I like hunting and fishing and just being around my friends.”