FRISCO - It wasn’t necessarily the award Ryan Hollingshead was trying to earn recognition for in 2017, but rather one that comes as a byproduct of the person that he is.
After stopping along an icy Dallas highway to help a complete stranger stranded on the shoulder last January and subsequently being hit by a car that nearly ending his life, much less his career, on Tuesday the fourth-year player was named a finalist for MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year, presented by AdvoCare - and is a clear-cut favorite for the honor.
“I wasn't trying to get nominated, I wasn't trying to be in that situation,” Hollingshead said of his journey since that January night. “I think that this sport really allows us to do a lot more than just play soccer and a lot more than just entertain the fans, it gives us an opportunity to reach out to our communities and just be positive voices in those communities and hopefully make a positive impact wherever we are. I try to do that, especially because of my faith, I try to just do that in every aspect of my life.”
It’s not the first time that Hollingshead has put others before himself to be that positive voice, either.
After being drafted by Dallas in the second round of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, the midfielder decided to forego his pro career to fulfill a promise to his brother Scott, to help build a church, Harvest Bible Chapel, in Sacramento. Unsure of what, if any, future in soccer he might have after taking the year off, it was simply another example of the person Hollingshead is.
“It comes back a lot to my faith. The way that Jesus just loved people, I try do do the same thing. I'm trying to, in any way that I can, just reach out to people who are maybe not in the position that I'm in and not as well off as I am,” he said of his selfless nature. “I just think I'm blessed, not because of what I did, it's because of things that God gifted me with and so I want to pour those things back as much as I can. Hopefully it's not just one time I do something good, but that it's my whole life. That I'm constantly trying to help people and trying to encourage people.”
It's safe to say that we're all inspired and encouraged by the person Ryan Hollingshead is.
MLS and MLS WORKS are set to announce the 2017 Humanitarian of the Year on Thursday. Hollingshead is up for the award alongside Chicago’s Matt Lampson and New York Red Bulls’ Luis Robles