Hannah Holland of Carolina Forest is one of six athletes recently chosen by athletic wear company Under Armour to be in the brand’s first class of “Team Next” – a group of young, athletic brand ambassadors.
“I cried like a baby when they announced her name,” said proud father Bobby Holland.
Hannah, 11, joins five other athletes from across the country on the Under Armour team, which was announced earlier this month. Images of Hannah will soon be appearing in retailers where Under Armour products are sold, including those along the Grand Strand and across the country.
Hannah, a fifth-grader at Ocean Bay Elementary School who has been active in sports since she was 4 years old, plays football, soccer, basketball and baseball. She hopes to play professional sports someday — her dream is to be the first woman to play for the National Football League.
“If people tell me I can’t do something, I just tell them, I’ll prove it on the field,” Hannah said on her profile page on the Under Armour website.
Hannah learned about the Under Armour Team Next challenge on the Internet and was eager to participate in the nationwide contest. However, she missed tryouts because her father accidentally took her to the wrong store location.
“I took her to the [Tanger] Outlet on [U.S.] 501 instead of the one in North Myrtle Beach where tryouts were being held. Major fail,” said Bobby Holland.
The next day Hannah participated in the write-in option of the contest by penning an essay, giving her account of why she thought she would be a good representative for the company. She described her involvement in different sports and included pictures of herself in action.
Hannah is active in various sports in the Grand Strand community, and she is the only girl on her Carolina Forest Community Center football team.
“Sometimes me and my friends would watch the boys play football after school, and one day I tried doing it. Everybody said that I was doing really well and that I should sign up,” Hannah said.
She decided to join the Tarheels team at CFCC, and played wide receiver and defensive back in the 2013 and 2014 football seasons.
During the 2013 football season, Hannah caught a pass in the end zone for a two-point conversion, and became the second girl in CFCC history to score during a football game, Bobby Holland said.
Hannah played football for the Citadel Bulldogs at CFCC this past season, but was only able to play in one game due to her busy schedule with other sports activities.
“In her one game she also caught a pass in the end zone, nearly had an interception and had a tackle or two. She played very well for not having played all year,” Bobby Holland said.
In late August, Bobby Holland said he mailed in his daughter’s essay as a “Hail Mary” shot, and then forgot about the contest as the weeks went by, until Jena Meyer from Under Armour called to express her interest in Hannah.
After several Skype interviews, Hannah was chosen in late September to be in the company’s new division of brand ambassadors, entitled “Team Next.” The goal of Team Next is to spread awareness about Under Armour products and encourage others to get involved in athletics, Hannah said.
“I think they picked me because of my athletic abilities, and because I’m the only girl on my football team,” Hannah said.
Hannah’s teammates: a 10-year-old boy from Stockbridge, Ga., involved with football and track and field, and known for being a leader for younger children; an 8-year-old girl from Calera, Ala., who has already won 55 medals for track and field; an 11-year-old girl from Cave Creek, Ariz., who is involved in cheerleading, soccer, and swimming and wants to be the first female Navy Seal; a 12-year-old boy from Easton, Conn., who plays soccer, baseball, and the saxophone and advocates playing fair. There is also a 12-year-old boy from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., involved with football and baseball who cares about enhancing his teammate’s experiences by playing his best.
“Young athletes were selected based on a combination of athleticism and how they exemplified Next,” Laurin Wolf, communications coordinator for Under Armour, said in an email.
Wolf also said that Team Next members should be individuals who “work harder than anyone else,” “step up to any challenge,” and “dream big.”
Hannah and her father were flown to Baltimore, Md., where she met her five other teammates. Father and daughter were greeted by a company car waiting to chauffeur them to Under Armour’s facilities and received duffle bags full of Under Armour clothing. In addition to photo shoots and film-making, Hannah also participated in interviews and a mock press conference.
“It was all really exciting, and I got to take a little break from school,” Hannah said.
Images of Hannah are already being displayed at the brand’s website at www.underarmour.com/en-us/teamuanext, where she has her own profile, which lists her involvement in various sports.
In addition to football, Hannah plays soccer with Coast Football Association, which is a traveling soccer team based in Socastee. She was a forward and point guard on the YMCA girls’ basketball team, and she will soon start playing on a basketball team at the Conway Parks and Recreation Center. She has also played baseball and does tumbling, which is a form of gymnastics.
Hannah’s nickname on the field is “Swag Donut” because her father said she has a lot of “swag” to go out there and play sports with the boys. She also loves donuts and often concludes games with a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme.
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