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Living the Dream: Horton athlete finds hit fit with football

Matt Holmes find the hype required to get players pumped up in football is a nice fit for his personality.
Matt Holmes find the hype required to get players pumped up in football is a nice fit for his personality. - Contributed

Matt Holmes hailed as ‘the kind of guy that every coach wants to have on their team’

WOLFVILLE, NS - Football may not have been the first choice – or even second – for Matthew Holmes, but he’s since discovered that it’s the sport that fits him best.

Holmes initially chose hockey as his main sport in his younger years. Eventually, he decided he needed a change and made the switch to karate.

At 14, the Wolfville native decided it was time for another change and had his first encounter with football when he started playing as a linebacker with the Valley Bulldogs. He would continue with that position when starting with the Horton High School team the following year.

Out of all the sports he’s played, Holmes says he feels football has been the best fit for him.

“I think it’s very much the sport that I’ve found that I fit in the most growing up,” said Holmes.

“It was very fun and enjoyable for me, very much a team sport. I love making the bonds with my other teammates, putting the helmet on, going out onto the field, and just running around balling out, people getting hit… I just love the sport.”

While there’s no question that Holmes has a passion for the game as a whole, he says that what he finds most enjoyable about the sport is how the energy in the midst of the action matches his personality.

“I love being able to play at Acadia, under the lights and everyone watching, I love how hyped the sport is,” said Holmes.

“I’ve always been a very loud person, so being able to just go out on the field and run around and get the boys hyped up and get hyped up by the boys, I love that part about it.”

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Canada Cup

After only three years of playing football, 17-year-old Holmes got his chance to have his first experience playing with a higher-level team competing with the Nova Scotia U18 team at the 2018 Canada Cup in Calgary this past July.

While Nova Scotia didn’t do as well as they’d hoped, finishing eighth in the tournament, and Holmes didn’t end up getting as much time on the field as he’d hoped, he says the experience for him wasn’t discouraging.

In fact, it was more the opposite.

“My time in Calgary was certainly very enjoyable because I took a lot of time to bond with my teammates and get to know some of the coaches and just take in some of the experience. With that said, I didn’t get very much playing time,” said Holmes.

“However, one of the biggest things that I brought back from that, along with the friendships that I’d made, was that the only thing I can really do now to affect how I play or what I want to do with football is just go home and train two times as hard, hit the field every day, and just keep going with it.”

The high school season

Horton High’s Matt Holmes is a key player on the field in a rebuilding year wherein the school has called on several new players to fill the shoes of some high-level players that graduated last year.
Horton High’s Matt Holmes is a key player on the field in a rebuilding year wherein the school has called on several new players to fill the shoes of some high-level players that graduated last year.

The first day of high school football practices took place on Aug. 20, and Holmes says that the biggest goal for the Horton team, aside from having fun, will be rebuilding the team after the loss of several senior players.

“We have sort of a rebuilding year with our high school team, we had a lot of studs last year that just graduated, so we’re certainly going to need to find some people to fill those spots,” said Holmes.

“But as far as goals, I think everyone on the team this year just wants to go in and just have fun. I don’t think any of us are looking too much into winning everything.”

Horton High School’s football coach, Greg Foran, says that he sees Holmes as playing an important role this season in helping to build a strong team.

“We lost a number of highly skilled players last year, a number of them are playing at the CIS level this year and that’s going to be all the more reason why Matt’s going to be someone who we’re going to depend on a lot this year,” said Foran.

“His leadership, his leadership style, his abilities; we’ve got a lot of young players that are going to need someone to look up to, and he’s definitely going to be that guy.”

In terms of his personal goals going into his final year of high school, Holmes hopes to be able to use the knowledge he gained from playing with the provincial team to push himself further on the field.

“As far as personal goals, I certainly want to get out on to the field and just play the best I can, use all the knowledge I’ve gained from playing on the provincial team, and just put it out on the field and see what I can accomplish,” said Holmes.

“Looking at the personnel that we have coming into the program, I’m thinking I’m probably going to end up playing both sides of the ball, with that said as well, I’m going to try to open up my versatility to see where else I can place myself on the field to just learn a few more skills going into the next level.”

Looking to the future

As his senior year of high school approaches, Holmes says he has ambitions of playing football at the university level like his older brother, and role model, Evan Holmes.

However, because education is so important to him, he plans to put that first when choosing a school.

“I’ve definitely thought about going to a university and trying to play football there. I definitely want to see what I can do, but I’m going to put my education first, so I’m definitely going to look at programs before I look at football teams,” he said.

“I’m thinking I’m basically going to need to work hard this year and put myself out on the field and hopefully I’ll get a couple eyes and then maybe see what I can do with it next year, but I definitely want to see if I can play next level.”

Coach Foran in confident that no matter where Holmes decides to go for his post-secondary education, there will be a place for him on the team – but until then, he’s happy that Holmes is playing for Horton.

“He’s the kind of guy that every coach wants to have on his team, and that sounds really cliché, but it’s true,” said Foran.

“Some CIS team will be lucky enough to get him next year, but for now he’s mine.”

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