Torry Holt - Big Game, Big Impact
Torry Holt - Big Game, Big Impact
Torry Holt - Big Game, Big Impact
Torry Holt is not your typical reserved middle child. Torry Holt isn't your typical diva wide receiver either. Frankly, Torry Holt is anything but typical. The outspoken, outgoing overachiever has carved a serious name for himself (and some less serious nicknames) on the field and in the community. He's confident, not conceited, and he's got plenty of reasons. Like 98 receptions for 1,291 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2005. And an average of ten touchdowns every season since he joined the St. Louis Rams as the number six draft pick in 1999. That same year, Holt began a foundation that has made big plays for cancer families in memory of his late mother.
The son of Odell Shoffner and Ojetta Holt-Shoffner, Torry Holt grew up in Gibsonville, North Carolina with older sister Tosha and younger brother Terrance. Born with his nose to the grindstone and his eyes on the prize, Holt pulled tobacco as a child to earn money with which he bought his first pair of cleats. At the age of 7, Holt took these values and discipline to the football field. There, he unleashed his winning attitude and personality.
From a young age, Holt was a ham - no pork pun intended, of course. "Hot Dog was the nickname I developed when I was young lil' shorty. When I would score my touchdowns in football and score my points in basketball, I had a habit of expressing myself by showing off or showing up the other team - good-natured gloating." Holt says an uncle came up with the name, and it stuck.
Holt stands by his shenanigans. He says he enjoys watching the other players celebrate - that is, when they're not scoring against him. Holt acknowledges players have to stay in the game, stay focused, and do what they have to do, but also have fun, express themselves. But even Holt draws the line at props. He says, "Some guys have brought the old school victory dance to a whole new level. I am all for celebrating with your team, but the excessiveness like planting props in the end zone is a little extreme."
These days, Hot Dog Holt goes by another hotshot pseudonym: Big Game. He's been "Big Game" since his senior year in college. A couple of his buddies claimed he had a knack for nabbing big plays in the big games. The new nickname was catchy and accurate, and followed the receiver into the league.
Holt has evolved behaviorally on the field. As a young buck, he admits he relied heavily on his speed and athletic talent. Now, he is older, wiser, and better. His experience and acquired maturity have slowed him down and smartened him up. He still has fun on the field, but he considers himself more patient, more pragmatic, and less erratic. As the seasoned Holt has described it, "It's almost like some fine wine; I'm vintage wine now."
Long before fermenting to his rich, full-bodied, chilled version, Holt was a ripe rookie. He endured family struggles that aged him wise beyond his years and made him generous beyond his means.
When Holt was finishing high school, his mother was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer. Holt, who prefers to keep his family life private, was devastated when she passed away while he was at college.
As a rookie in the NFL, Holt worked with the Rams' community outreach department to get involved with cancer families in St. Louis through a program called Bear Essentials. Using interactive art therapy, musical expression, hospital visits, and group discussions to educate the children of cancer patients, it helps kids understand and cope with their feelings.
Holt, who never had this kind of organized emotional support system during his own battle, was inspired; he made a contribution to the program, visited every Christmas, and attended sporadic board meetings. Craving a more active philanthropic role, he started the Torry Holt Foundation.
The Bear Essentials program, then 9 years old, was housed in the Missouri Baptist Hospital. With Holt's contributions, it expanded within that location and to another St. Louis hospital. Most recently, the Torry Holt Foundation is exploring opening another on in North Carolina.
Already in his home state, Holt has implemented sister programs, like Kids Can! which has a similar premise. Growing up, Holt says his family was very hush-hush about his mother's struggle. He says that he would have behaved differently if he had been exposed to the level of understanding that these programs provide. He promotes a chain reaction of positive influence from the simple acts of respect like not acting up, doing extra chores, and helping out with daily tasks.
"We can help these kids be more mature and understand what's going on in their parents' lives, and help make the fight easier with teamwork.
"Wow, I thought to myself," remembers Holt the first time he met the program participants. "We can help these kids be more mature and understand what's going on in their parents' lives, and help make the fight easier with teamwork and the time they have together more meaningful."
Holt wants to retain and reinforce ties to his hometown. He considers himself truly blessed by his athletic abilities that opened doors often locked to such a small, rural community. Holt returns as often as his schedule allows to see his family and to interact with the Gibsonville youth. He hopes to develop a community center for sports and recreation, as well as education and meetings. Holt and younger brother Detroit Lions safety Terrence Holt are icons in town and strive to uplift the community where their family still resides.
"My brother's my guy. He's definitely my best friend and somebody I lean on for support. He definitely advocates our mission, and it is great to have the opportunity to work with him serving as chairman. It's hilarious; there's never a dull moment. It is a treat and a joy," exalts Holt.
Every year, Torry and Terrence Holt host the Holt Brothers' Celebrity weekend, their foundation's major fundraiser, in Raleigh, N.C. in April.
HBCW features Celebowl (a celebrity bowling tournament and charity auction) and fundraising After-Party, and the Torry Holt Golf Classic (a celebrity golf tournament). Last year, in its fourth edition, they raised considerable sums for their foundation.
Holt's leadership and charitable contributions have not gone unnoticed. For his excellence in the community, he received a JB Award at the 2006 NFL Players Gridiron Gala in Washington, D.C.
"It is always definitely an honor to be recognized by my peers, but especially for something so important to me. It's an honor to be acknowledged with the likes of [Steve] McNair, [Brian] Dawkins, [Kurt] Warner and the rest," reacts Holt. "To link up with those guys for future projects would be absolutely fantastic - a dream. The reality is they are just a phone call away."
Holt is one of the best and most consistent wide receivers in the league. So get your fantasy drafts ready, Holt should be in the upper echelon of wide receiver picks this season. Even with a new coaching staff in St. Louis, Holt should continue to perform and produce for the Rams. Expect another taste of this vintage player's signature field flavor. His roots are securely planted in his hometown and his heart with the families in his programs. For St. Louis, Holt is a real catch: His endurance, resilience, generosity, leadership are unmatched.
Re: Torry Holt - Big Game, Big Impact
great article....torry is class from top to bottom. he is clearly a great Ram
Maineram - :)