Many young athletes have dreams of going pro, but for 15-year-old goalkeeper Nicholas Holliday, this dream has already become a reality.
The Chapel Hill native made his professional soccer debut with North Carolina FC on June 20, recording 10 saves. Those 10 saves were tied for the most in a USL League One game this season and were the third-most in a single game in league history.
Holliday was raised in a sports environment, playing not only soccer but also basketball, lacrosse and baseball. He landed on soccer after determining that he didn’t like basketball and that the other two sports required a helmet — he doesn’t like to mess up his hair.
The goalkeeper quickly rose through the ranks of NCFC’s youth club alongside his older brother Christopher, who is now a defensive back for UNC’s football team. It didn’t take long for Holliday to realize that he wanted to pursue soccer at a serious level.
“I saw all the people I looked up to and I started watching the World Cup and these big soccer games,” Holliday said. “I know how all the fans love that person, and I want to be like that.”
When he was only 14, Holliday was brought up to the organization’s professional team amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He signed an academy contract, a special agreement for young USL players that allows them to train and compete with a professional team while maintaining college eligibility.
Head coach John Bradford was hopeful about the point that Holliday was at in his career and how he believed he would progress.
“I felt confident, as I've gotten to know Nick, that his personality and competence in himself was going to be enough for him to be able to step into a professional environment and be successful,” Bradford said.
However, some of the older NCFC players were skeptical when they heard that a boy fresh out of middle school would be joining their team.