Renaissance Man: AHS senior balances sports, school and art

Published 6:35 pm Tuesday, May 9, 2023

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Austin senior Toby Holtz has always been a hard worker in athletics, but he also has another passion that brings out the best in him. 

Holtz was a physical linebacker for the Packer football team, where he drew interest from Division II and Division III schools. He is a steady rotation player for the Packer baseball team this spring, and he was also a solid hockey player, which is the sport he is hoping to play in college. But most of Holtz’s opponents haven’t seen some of his best work.

For the past four years, Holtz has taken up welding and he’s succeeded as a commercial and artistic welder at Austin High School. Holtz recently finished second in a Southeast Minnesota Welding Competition at a job fair at Rochester Technical and Community College where he had 20 minutes to work on an actual job.

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“It was a little stressful, because I wasn’t really prepared to do a bunch of welds with the time I had, but it was still fun,” Holtz said. 

That success in welding has Holtz thinking about a career in engineering, but his prize piece is not a professional job. It is an eight foot tall, 200-pound jet plane that serves as a tribute to his grandfather. Holtz formed the fighter plane with metal scrap pieces that he found in the AHS art room.

“My grandpa really likes airplanes and he worked on them in the Air Force. I thought it would be really cool to make one,” Holtz said. “Sometimes I just kind of put stuff together. I really enjoy doing it.”

While the fighter plane is his most outstanding creation, Holtz has also welded art pieces featuring his own name, small figures lifting weights, playing hockey and welding.

Holtz is also a PSEO student at Riverland Community College which keeps him extremely busy.

AHS head football coach Ed Schmitt said that Holtz is an outstanding example of what a student athlete can be.

“Toby is a phenomenal young man. He’s not the most outspoken person, but he leads by example and he does and says the right thing,” Schmitt said. “All of us coaches love having three sport athletes who aren’t specializing. With the PSEO part of it, he’s doing the right thing on and off the field. Toby’s one of those kids who you don’t have to worry about. Anything that is thrown his way, he’ll have the best outcome that he can get. He’s a great young man, he has great parents and the sky is the limit for Toby.”

Holtz’s desire to work in welding came almost as soon as he arrived at AHS. He was walking past the shop room and had to give it a try.

Holtz’s passions have kept him busy, but his art projects may eventually make him some money. He has considered using it as a side job in the future, but for now he’s focusing on keeping up with his time management.

“I make a plan and I see how much time I have to do everything. I’m also a PSEO student, and there is always homework,” Holtz said. “When you’re a three-sport athlete, you don’t have a lot of time to do other things like have fun. Sometimes you just want to hang out with your friends, but you don’t have time to do that. The best part about it is having fun with your teammates and having fun playing sports.”