For Michigan's first deaf football captain, COVID-19 is just another barrier to break

"And then everything came to an abrupt stop."

That may as well be the unofficial slogan of Michigan's spring and summer. It certainly was for Devin Holmes, who had his life's dream in the crosshairs when COVID-19 disrupted his plans for college. And boy did he have plans.

"Well, I felt really sad about it. But I'm trying to continue to think positive and continue my regiment of working out so I can be ready," said Devin. 

Devin was destined to join the college athletes at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., where he was recruited to play football after finishing high school in Southfield.

However, the 18-year-old's path to potential collegiate stardom wasn't the traditional journey of any athlete who excelled at sports in high school. Devin began his life defying the odds - he was born deaf. 

But that didn't stop him from joining the Southfield Ravens football team at age 12. He eventually made it to the varsity squad three years in a row at Bloomfield Hills High School. A dominating defensive lineman who made history when he was named captain of his team. Michigan's first deaf football captain had been preparing to take his play to the next level when a familiar foe made an appearance: Coronavirus.

"It was a challenge and I think even though he's very reserved and really cool and laid back, I noticed it did really bother him," said Gail Holmes, his mom. 

The 2020 season may have been canceled, but Devin wasn't bothered - not for long at least. Instead, he decided to keep moving forward, continuing to train his body to play football and picking up some new skills along the way. 

After receiving a summer internship at JVS Human Services, Devin has been busy acquiring new knowledge for the future.

"I'm learning how to communicate with others, how to manage my time, how to focus on my tasks," said Devin.

His job has him show up to work every day working, learning, and performing maintenance at the Royal Oak Golf Center. 

And even during these pandemic times, he's making friends and having a whole lot of fun.

"The summer program is intended for students like Devin to thrive, to gain those experiences, gain that confidence so that they're employable from this point on and they have that drive to make themselves the best they possibly can be," said Todd McMillan, of JVS Human Services.

In Devin's eyes, his best will lead him to both the football field and the classroom, where he wants to become a teacher and a coach. 

"He doesn't let anything stop him. I instilled in him at a young age that you can do anything and he's taken off with it," said Gail.

"It doesn't matter what's going on. It may take a lot of work and discipline, but you can be successful, deaf or hearing, just persevere and work hard," said Devin.

Whatever is in store for future football plans, Devin will begin his college career at Galduette this fall, taking classes online. And hopefully, he'll be hitting the football field there next season.