Torry and Terrence Holt talk candidly about their hometown, life after football and more
What made you come back to N.C.?
Torry: We never left North Carolina. We always kept a home here, and then when we initially retired, it was natural for us to come back. We had to make a decision about what we were going to do post career. We’re home guys doing good in our home state. Our family is still here, we have friends we met in college, and we have a business here.
Terrence: It’s important to distinguish the fact that we never left. We came back to put on our fundraising events, to visit our programs at our area hospitals, and spend time with our families during the summer. We felt it important to embrace our hometown.
You hear stories of players who have a rough time after pro sports. What set you apart?
Terrence: What separates us from those stories is that we have planned from day one to not be a “Where are they now” story. We spent a lot of time trying to plan, and hopefully position ourselves to be successful. But it’s an every day, every week, every month, every year discussion and evaluation to make sure we’re on the right track. As much as the public sees the success, there’s a journey, and on a journey you have peaks and valleys. We sure enough have had some low points but what we have tried to do is stay in the game.
How do you do that?
Terrence: It’s a constant battle. It takes having conversations even when things are going well. It takes not resting on your laurels. It takes someone to be optimistic yet be realistic. Surrounding yourself with people that will be honest with you. You have to be consistent. It really goes back to our sports careers where that consistency is what separated Torry from other receivers. That’s work ethic. It’s the same thing we try to do here. Coming to the office every day with a goal to be successful.
Torry: We have a lot of examples of guys who are doing it really well. We pick their brains to see how they’re working their operations, what are some of the trials and tribulations to overcome in order to sustain. We were football players so we’ve had to learn, and we’re still looking to grow. I think what football has taught us is to trust your team, set goals, lead by example, allow your employees or teammates to do what they do best. We’ve had a great deal of success but we’ve also had some challenging times. It’s just how you respond when you get knocked down, and so far we’ve been able to get up and get rolling. We’re fortunate to have good people around us that are willing to help, encourage us and continue to challenge us to push the envelope.
Terrence: We try to do a whole lot of thinking before we venture in to doing something. Just for example, we started this construction company in 2007 and didn’t begin pursuing opportunities until October 2011. That time was research, evaluation, market study, going around marketing to owners, potential partners, architects, engineers before we felt comfortable that we had what it took. We’re very methodical in our thought process.
You talked about how you’re fortunate that you live where you played college football. How does that play into your lives today?
Torry: It’s a big part of our lives. I was coming out of [high] school and I wasn’t qualified academically and they gave me an opportunity to play sports and get an education. That was a great deal of loyalty they showed to me. My mother had cancer at the time. When I went to military academy, I had plenty of opportunities to go to other schools once I got my scores but it felt right for me to stay at home and go to NC State. They visited me in military academy and checked about my mom. It was a commitment they made to me, and I wanted to make sure I returned the favor. When we got into construction, NC State helped to give us tips on how to go about our business, we leaned on them for our next transition.
Do you stay in contact with teammates?
Torry: We stay in touch with our teammates through our charity events. Every year, we have the player’s reunion at NC State.
Terrence: Just the other day I got a call from a former teammate who wanted to start his own non-profit and called to ask for advice. My nickname is The Professor. So it was the ultimate compliment that he felt comfortable when he was struggling to call me. To me that’s symbolic of that brotherhood.
How did you get the Professor nickname?
Terrence: It was because of the studious approach I took to the craft. I always prided myself on being knowledgeable of my opponent, of the best way to attack, and getting my teammates lined up. I was probably way more mature than my peers because I had the luxury of following my brother. When my teammates needed something they knew they could come to me. What I’m proud of is that still remains.
Torry Holt talks about the inspiration behind the Holt Brothers Foundation
When I made it to the NFL, I had thoughts of starting my own nonprofit. And it started because of my mom. I was trying to figure out what the nonprofit would be, who would we serve. I was in St. Louis and [Community Affairs Director] Marci Moran invited me to a meeting of this group Bear Essentials, [for] families with a parent who was battling cancer. I went to the meeting and immediately I thought this is exactly it.
I remember leaving and I said what’s the next step, I want to help kids with a parent who’s battling cancer. I was so blown away by the emotion, the passion, the honesty, the information that these families were being given. It’s information that we didn’t get when our mom was dealing with it. It was more, “Keep it quiet. You can’t go out of this house and talk about what is going on with your mother.” We didn’t talk to the doctors.
Fortunately for us, we had sports. My sister was a cheerleader, Terrence played basketball and football, and I played basketball and football so we had an outlet. When we were in those arenas we could let it go, but when we left we would have to deal with the reality that our mother was dying with cancer.
We took Bear Essentials and started our own program called Kids Can!, that kids can still achieve and accomplish anything they want to though their parent or guardian is battling cancer. It affects you no matter what age you are. We’re really proud of it, making a lot of progress and changing a lot of lives. We try to encourage the kids, the parents, the aunties, to talk about [cancer] and be open about the situation.