Two years ago Fred Holden was in a bad place.
The Northside sophomore was in the wrong crowd. He was doing the wrong things.
One day reality hit him. With a pair of handcuffs.
“I went to jail. I went to jail,” Holden said. “Two families came and took me in. I went to school high. The Pankey`s and the Stein`s, my two families came in.”
Fast forward to the present, the senior lineman now calls Southside home and is in the midst of a playoff run.
Holden was kicked off the Northside team and eventually found himself in the juvenile detention center. That is when a pair of families, the Pankey’s and the Stein’s stepped in. The two families asked Holden if he wanted to leave home and move in with them.
“I told her I would think about it at first but then I found out they had talked to my mom,” Holden said. “My mom thought it would be the best decision for me and I thought it was the best decision for me.”
So Holden left his mother. His left his friends at Northside. He left his old way of life.
Holden started at Southside with a grade point average well below 2.0 and his ACT score was a 13. Kim Pankey forced Holden into the books, often until past midnight.
“I really kind of liked the life that I was living but that getting out, leaving that life would cause me to be a better person someday,” Holden said.
That worked has paid off.
“Fred has really come a long way,” Southside coach Jeff Williams said. “I think coming in, just work ethic, overall and school wise and things like that, he was struggling in and his personal life a little bit but he`s really come a long ways and become a great leader for our football team.”
Last Friday Holden played in the Battle of Rogers Avenue. The 45-26 win wasn’t nearly as important to the now senior than something else.
“This game really means a lot to me,” Holden said. “Not necessarily that I want to beat them as much as I want to show them how much I`ve changed.”
Holden has raised his grade point multiple points and his ACT score has improved by 10 points to a 23.