Today is Zachary High School star quarterback Eli Holstein’s last day of high school. Having satisfied all requirements to earn his diploma early, the Bama commit is packing his bags and moving to Tuscaloosa in the next few weeks to begin his college career.
“Can’t believe Friday night lights are over for the Holsteins,” the quarterback’s mom Amy Holstein reflected in a Facebook post earlier this week after the Broncos’ season-ending loss to Ruston. “Can’t believe God chose me to get to watch these boys of mine do what they love,” she continued. Even though Eli plans to play college ball, Amy says, “there’s nothing like high school football.”
As the sun sets on this season of life for parents around the country–after all, only a very small percentage of high school athletes go on to play in college–many parents and athletes alike might be wondering what’s next. There are a myriad of studies done and articles written about the struggle to find an identity beyond sports. When it’s a part of life for so long, the sudden absence of a routine and a performance goal can be an unexpectedly painful loss for many.
Local licensed counselor and mental health expert Myeisha Spears-Beard of Restore Counseling Services in Zachary advises to start encouraging kids to tap into their other talents early on. “Focus on being more than the win,” she says. “Your alternative options are endless,” she says. Setting a foundation beyond a specific sports ability so that the athlete’s self-confidence isn’t solely tied to the one sport is key.
The Holsteins agree. “You’ve got to know who you are outside of sports, because it can be taken away at any moment,” Amy told her son. “Football does not define who you are. First, you’re a child of God, a person. God has blessed you with a talent, and you’ve gotta use it while you have it,” she said. “It’s not gonna be there forever, even if you play all the way. Even if you don’t lose it til you’re 40,” she said. “You’ve gotta learn to live without it.”
Known also for being a straight-A student–he told us on the podcast that if he gets a B, he’s going to “‘B’ without a phone–Eli’s parents’ number one rule is that their kids do not go to bed with their phones. “That’s my best piece of parenting advice,” Amy says, noting that her son does get teased about the rule, but at least she doesn’t have to worry that he’s not getting enough sleep due to screentime.
Wrapping up her reflection on the past four years, Amy says it’s been a blessing to be a part of the Zachary High School football program, and that Coach David Brewerton has been the perfect coach for Eli.
Zachary’s hometown football hero will be reporting for practice with the team next week in Alabama and traveling with the Crimson Tide to the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Eve as they take on the Kansas State Wildcats, then starting his college career in January.
Best of luck to Eli, the Holsteins, and all student athletes and their parents during this season of transition.