Sanchez Holder never played college football, but Monday begins the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
That’s when the 2009 Gallatin High grad boards a plane bound for Brazil as one of the newest members of the Recife Pirates.
As a member of the Green Wave, Holder played running back and kick returner. During his senior season in 2008, he picked up more than 1,000 yards rushing and was named All-Region. The team ended the season at 8-3, with a 20-8, first-round playoff loss to Centennial.
After high school graduation, Holder enrolled at a technical school briefly, but realized it wasn’t a good fit for him. Instead, he shifted gears and became a licensed truck driver.
More recently, he’s spent time playing with the Middle Tennessee Football League’s Lebanon Hitmen.
“Finally, I met someone that knew someone that knew someone and I got hooked up with the Brazilian league,” he added, noting that he made contact with the team in November and signed a contract to play two weeks later.
The Brazilian football league only allows two Americans per roster, Holder said, adding that the other Recife player is from California. League play begins July 9 and the season consists of seven games plus playoffs, culminating in the Copa de Brazil, similar to the National Football League’s Super Bowl.
Located on Brazil’s eastern coast, Recife is fourth largest city. It is also home to other sports teams and serves as a host site for the FIFA World Cup tournament.
Holder is admittedly a bit nervous about his upcoming departure.
“Well, it’ll be my first time flying, so I’m a little nervous about that. The cool thing is I’ll get to spend some time in Rio which is where the Olympics are this year,” he said. “But I’m more excited than nervous. I can’t wait to see what happens after this.”
Reach Mealand Ragland-Hudgins at 615-575-7161 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @mrhudgins4.