Fishing Lines for Christmas Time: Football great Priest Holmes giving away rods, reels to local kids

Holmes hosting free fishing event for children Saturday at Southside Lions Park

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio football great Priest Holmes ran for thousands of yards and dozens of touchdowns at Marshall High School all the way to the University of Texas and the NFL. But in retirement, he traded carrying the football for fishing rods.

Holmes is hosting the third annual Fishing Lines at Christmas Time event on Saturday morning at Southside Lions Park. The first 300 children to register, ages 15 and under, will receive a free rod and reel. A free picnic-style lunch will also be provided to all attendees. There will be live music and games.

“I love it when I get a chance to see these kids walk away with a free fishing rod,” Holmes said. “Their excitement when they see these worms and they’re digging their hands in the cups.”

Holmes said it’s another chance to give some underserved kids opportunities they may not have.

“It’s great to be able to have an activity that brings them outdoors and have a good time,” Holmes said. “They’re more than two or three minutes away from this lake and they may not have ever gone fishing.”

Holmes said the event has grown every year and is open to experienced anglers and beginners.

“If they need or have issues with their hooks, there’s someone alongside them to help,” Holmes said. “If they have problems putting the bait on the hook, we have a guide that will help and participate in that.”

The Priest Holmes Foundation, NFLPA San Antonio & Austin Former Players Chapter, and San Antonio Building Construction Trades Council, Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation along with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance teamed up to put the fishing event together.

Holmes’ foundation also works with Rev. James E. Robinson of Gospel Vision Ministries to give back during the holidays. The two are collaborating for a huge toy drive on Dec. 16 at the Barbara Jordan Community Center.

“Get there early. We just had an event there for Thanksgiving and the line was about three miles long, come out and have a good time,” Robinson said. “It’s all about giving. Why do you give to people? Why do you give to the homeless? It’s them today. It could be us tomorrow. So you never forget where you came from.”

Robinson said he enjoys working with Holmes because you would never know Priest was a former NFL star player.

“Priest is down to earth. He’s a friend. He’s just somebody you really want to be around,” Robinson said.

“It’s about being able to be that beacon of light, being a source and a resource and be able to allow for God to work through me,” Holmes said. “Another reason to put on this event is to be able to encourage kids and let them see people in their community still giving back and to provide some hope during this time, because it is the holidays and this is the loneliest time for many people that don’t have family or loved ones.”

And this Saturday, it’s all about casting a line and having a good time.

“We stocked this tank with fish, and so ... after we’re gone, the community can continue to come out here,” Holmes said. “Come out and fish and have a really great time with their parents and other people in the community.”

Click here for more information on how to register for the free fishing event. All youth participants must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or chaperon.

About the Authors:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.