Daxon Lindholm first held a football in his hands as a baby. To this day, it rarely leaves those hands.
While the way the football fits in his grasp has changed over the years, his love and passion for the sport hasn’t.
The Centennial star is verbally committed to play slot back—a versatile position combining running back and slot receiver—for the United States Military Academy. Although he acknowledged his recruitment is still open, Lindholm and those around him see West Point as an ideal destination.
“Character is really important to me, and I’m blessed that I committed to a service academy,” Lindholm said. “I know that they’ll care about me as a person and how I’m doing academically, socially and all other aspects before football.”
Lindholm’s family has a history in the military, so he’s familiar with the academies.
“He knows an interesting fact about each president,” Centennial head coach Richard Taylor said with a chuckle. “In order.”
When asked if it was true, Lindholm responded with a confident “yup.”
Growing up in Grand Junction, Colorado, Lindholm had a pop-up book of state capitals that he read every day beginning when he was 3 years old. His family is originally from South Dakota, and it was during a trip to Mount Rushmore—specifically the Presidential Wax Museum—when the passion really blossomed.
“I walked through the entire place and read everything on every plaque for every president,” Lindholm said. “Then I started getting books. I have about 50 books about the presidents, and I’ve read through all of them.”
He loves to see and learn from all of their faults and successes, something he applies to football as well. After a blowout loss to Hamilton in the opening game of the season, Lindholm could not wait to get back in the film room and on the practice field.
The motivation and work ethic paid off, as his Coyotes rebounded with a 37-0 win at Mountain Pointe the next week.
“Football is all strategic. It’s like warfare, and that’s why I’m inspired to go to West Point,” Lindholm said. “I’m all about strategy. I like seeing the outcome, but I love to know the mechanism behind it.”
Sadly, Lindholm’s journey includes tragedy. His mother was killed in a car accident when he was just 3 years old. He never really knew his father, so he moved in with his grandparents.
Grandfather Stan Lindholm, raised in Buffalo, South Dakota, was an all-state running back and kicker in high school. He had a chance to play at the University of Wyoming, but full scholarships were almost nonexistent in the early 1970s and his family did not have the means to pay for college.
His playing career may have come to an end, but his knowledge and passion for the game would come in handy down the road.
Lindholm started playing football when he was 4 years old, and Stan was there every step of the way.
“Every ride home after practice he’d tell me what I did wrong, and he would take me out to the field to practice footwork or routes,” Lindholm recalled. “I wanted to play sports and he knew I had a future in athletics, so he made sure he helped me achieve my goals no matter what.”
In 2013, Stan developed multiple myeloma. The family moved from Grand Junction to the Phoenix area to be close to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale. When Stan passed away in 2016, Lindholm lost a mentor he considered his father.
“He shaped me in his image, and I could never thank him enough, because without him I would never be where I am today,” Lindholm said. “He taught me everything I knew.”
Stan would be proud of who Lindholm has become. Off the field, Lindholm was president of finance and fundraising for Centennial’s Future Business Leaders of America club.
He’s been involved in the club since his freshman year, when his English teacher and program director, Mrs. Mylynda Koener, recognized his passion for the subject.
“Daxon has a love of politics and is an adept conversationalist in his views that are impressive and mature beyond his years,” Koener said. “He has a desire to serve in the political realm and the world would be blessed from his talent and leadership.”
Lindholm accepted her invitation to a meeting and fell in love with it immediately.
“I love knowing that there are so many people that can make an impact on the country and the economy,” Lindholm said. “I just want to get a foot in the door for my future.”
Although he has an exciting future ahead of him, Lindholm appreciates the present as well. He doesn’t think there will be a day in his life where he doesn’t look back and remember an experience he had at Centennial. He gets motivation from being a part of the Coyote family.
“The Centennial community gathers around us and supports us every Friday night,” Lindholm said. “I say we go out there and get a win to repay them for their support.”
On the field, the path to the end zone hasn’t always been smooth.
During the third game of his freshman season, Lindholm broke his arm and missed the remainder of the year. He got a late start on transforming his body in the offseason, causing him to split time between junior varsity and varsity as a sophomore.
“I thought it was going to affect my career and the future, but no matter what obstacles get thrown my way I always make sure to bounce back,” Lindholm said. “In fact, I learn from it to get better.”
Lindholm gained over 600 all-purpose yards during his junior season and made huge strides as a player.
“His vision has gotten a lot better and his speed and overall athleticism have improved as well,” teammate DJ Gleash said.
If Lindholm doesn’t go on to play professional football, he has a clear idea for how he wants to spend his service time.
“I want to work in national security and intelligence,” Lindholm said. “If not that, then in Washington with the political side of things and dealing with officials and briefings.”
Based on the words of Taylor, it would be a perfect fit.
“He doesn’t always talk a whole lot, but when Daxon says something, it is well worth listening to,” he said.
A 31-21 victory over Pinnacle High Oct. 23 raised rebounding Centennial’s record to 3-1 going into a Friday, Oct. 30, showdown in Peoria with undefeated Chandler.
Ironwood High lost for the first time to powerful Desert Edge. Ironwood hosts Sunrise Mountain Friday, Oct. 30.
Liberty High, coming off a 35-28 win over Queen Creek, battles Friday while Peoria High is scheduled to take on Northwest Christian in Oct. 30 games.