By Wil Crews
Skylan Holstick is a seventh grader at Opelika Middle School.
He and 59 other middle school footballers were selected out of a pool of 30,000 players to compete in the Bret Cooper Football Junior Academic All American Bowl in Dallas, Texas. The Bowl is unique in that it is the only game in the country that has an academic-and-character-related requirement to be an All-American selection.
“Your ability to hit your opponents as hard as you hit the books will let you showcase your talents along with the very top student athletes across the country and internationally,” the Bret Cooper Football press release said.
To be selected for the Junior Academic All-American Bowl, student-athletes must have a 3.0 GPA. Exceptional on the field and in the classroom, Holstick has a 4.0 GPA. “it’s like the best of the best in the country,” said Holtick’s mom Tianna Summers.
The week-long event from Dec. 26 to Dec. 31 features high school, college, pro and ex-NFL players as coaches and has a goal of preparing players “for the next level of your success on and off the field, including thinking about college.”
The bowl is a prestigious event as the game has showcased and produced the most college D-1 and NFL football players in the last 10 years of football history. The rosters are requested and submitted to colleges and universities around the country and also go directly to major national publications highlighting the next top recruits.
Holstick has been hard at work over the past week, practicing five hours a day to prepare for the game on the 31st. But it’s not all strict football business.
Holstick, a 5-foot-8-inch, 270-pound, 12-year-old lineman has been wined and dined to the tune of charter bus rides for team travels, team breakfasts, motivational speaker symposiums and jersey presentations from Bret Cooper (a former arena football standout) himself.
Holstick even took part in a “big sexy linemen challenge,” the intricacies of which are is still vague, but make it sound like a must-watch event.
Holstick and his family even get to attend the Cotton Bowl Game at AT&T Stadium on Wednesday. Summers says the recognition and invitation to the game mean “a whole lot.”
“He’s been working hard,” Summers said. “It’s great that my son is getting this opportunity. I’m confident that I’m able to invest in my son and support him. It’s really a blessing.”
After the week-long event ends, Holstick and his family will come back to Opelika, where he plans to continue his diligent work on and off the field. He wants to become a doctor one day. Perhaps that will follow a long, successful – and sexy – football career.