By Charley Silverman | BAC Magazine Staff
This time of year Roland Huff shows up to his son Jaylen’s school more than an hour before the final bell rings. He want’s to be the first in line so they can be the first out. Three times a week the Huffs get out of school as quickly as they can, and hit the road. It’s 110 miles from Colombus to Atlanta via I-85 and I-185, and Jaylen’s practice won’t wait.
Roland Huff sees investment in the way he and his family are raising Jaylen. It’s an investment getting Jaylen to and from practice three times a week. It’s an investment to expose Jaylen to football travel experiences in California and Alabama within the last year. Roland gave an off-the-top-of-his-head number of $7,000 invested into equipment, travel, nutrition, dues and fees. Roland said there were so many more expenses, he could have just kept going down the list.
Primarily Roland invests his most precious resource: his time. In order to not only spend time with his family, but to actually provide for them, Roland Huff starts his days at 4:20am every morning. By 6:30 he’s already been to the gym and is reporting for his first job. By 1:20pm he has secured his spot in the school pick-up line where he catches quick cat-naps and answers calls from people like me. On the road by 3:00pm and back home after the sun goes down. On days without practice, Roland is found at his second job before coming home and getting in exercises and drills with Jaylen. Roland says he’s averaging around five hours of sleep during football season.
A competitive body builder himself, Roland says his sport is a selfish one. Being hyper-involved in his son’s development means sacrificing some of the competitive edges he could have in his own sport. He wouldn’t change a thing. After a year of adjustments, Roland says he’s now coasting. He’s got the rhythm of things like prepping eight meals a day for himself and five for Jalen.
That first year of Jaylen’s competitive and traveling schedule meant getting used to some things that were new for Roland. The drive to Atlanta for one thing. Now Jaylen does his homework in the front seat on the way to Atlanta and the two of them listen to music on the way home. More than anything, the Huff’s have needed to adjust to being celebrities in the football crazed South.
At just eight years old, Jaylen is popular with people local and farther afield. He’s got fans whom he is unlikely to ever meet. You see, Jaylen is a YouTube sensation, with all that entails. A video published by Muscle Madness featuring Jaylen has more than 4,750,000 views and over 4,500 comments. By the very nature of YouTube comments sections, not all of the attention is positive.
The attention can be a lot. Become A Champion magazine is going for a double dip of Huff features including this one and another article featured in the February 2017 edition. Roland says people stop him at work, or begin conversations on different subjects with the intention of bringing conversation around to his son.
Roland says, “I just keep my head up, keep popping into the school to keep grades up, work hard and keep god first. Jaylen is going to get where he’s going to go.”