BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Spring practice for Florida’s high school football teams begins on April 24.
Travis Roland, a first year and rookie head coach, will begin his quest to turn the Flagler Palm Coast (FPC) Bulldogs into a powerhouse.
“I’ve always looked at FPC as a hidden gem. I just thought it was time to do something different. I know it’s a challenge. I set big goals. I think it was just time,” Roland remarked.
Roland was hired in December. He replaced Tommy Moody, who was fired after going 7-12 over two seasons.
Will miss Mainland
Roland has spent the past four seasons as defensive coordinator at Mainland High School.
During that time, the Mainland Buccaneers’ defense shut out 19 opponents. They only allowed 13 teams to score 21 points and the team went 58-10 with at least one playoff win in each season.
“I will miss Mainland. Mainland is home. I went there just like my brothers and cousins. My mother worked there for 15 years, but it was time to move on and leave home to do something great,” he admitted.
“I’ll always love Mainland. I’ll miss the players. I coached many in Pop Warner and they are a big part of me.’’
Experience as player, coach
Roland was a star player at Bethune-Cookman College (now University) and Mainland, where he was a member of the 2003 state title team.
He also is a longtime Pop Warner (youth football) coach and spent two seasons as defensive coordinator at Seabreeze High School. Roland also played a season of arena football.
He knows what it takes for a team to be successful.
“You have to build to become great. Mainland is a brand. Kids flock to Mainland. They have been winning for 25 years. I must create the brand of FPC football. At Mainland, I helped create and sustain the brand as a player and coach. I just have to do it here. It’s exciting,” he commented.
‘Change the mindset’
Roland is up for the challenge to make the Bulldogs into a perennial winner.
“We have to change the mindset. When you have a few losing seasons, I think it gets to the kids and they become individuals instead of teammates. We have to get them expecting to win instead of going into a game hoping they might win. We must instill in their minds that they can win every game,” Roland expressed.
Roland likes the mood at FPC heading into spring practice.
He said, “I’ve had two meetings and over 100 kids showed up. I’ve been told that that’s the most kids from previous years. There is a buzz and excitement around campus. The coaching staff and I are going to work. We want to have a good spring. The goal is to win the spring game and build momentum.”
A team with talent
FPC plays Seabreeze High at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex on Friday, May 19, at 7 p.m.
Roland does inherit some talent at FPC, including running back/wide receiver Jimmy Robinson, 6’3” wide receiver Anfernee Brown and defensive back/wide receiver Isaiah Stubbs.
“We have some really good skill players coming back. We do have some talent on this team. Jimmy will be a three-year starter and a big-time player maker for us while Anthony is also a four-year starter and Stubbs is a very fast guy. He runs with the track team,” Roland noted.
Roland believes his ties with the community can help him succeed.
He explained,” I definitely have the right ties in Daytona as of helping the kids become better people. In Flagler, I have to do some work. I have to go to the gym and talk to the locals. It will take time, but I believe that because of my upbringing I will be able to mesh well with the players. Once people and kids find out who I am, what I do and why I do it, I think things will work.”
At the end of the day, Roland is touching lives and molding men.
Roland told the Daytona Times, “Every day I wake up with a mission to try to save another kid. I have some teammates that are dead for some reasons. If I can save a kid from any situation that may trip them up and put them on the wrong way wrong path, then I’ll do it.
“I think as a high school coach I get a chance whether in Daytona or Flagler. I must be that positive role model for the kids. TV doesn’t show the greatest example. I try to show them that they can have all they want in life by getting an education and becoming what they can be.”