Dec. 31, 2011
By Matt Winkeljohn
For the longest time, Roderick Sylvester wasn't able to do this sort of thing so now that he has the time, you can bet that he does it.
In this case, "it" has been a drive across two-thirds of the United States.
Today's Hyundai Sun Bowl will be Steven Sylvester's last game as a collegiate football player, and therefore the last chance his parents and brother can watch him play outside linebacker for Georgia Tech.
So they drove, from McDonough, Ga., to El Paso, Texas ... more or less non-stop. They met the families of quarterback Tevin Washington and defensive back Jamal Golden in Meridian, Miss., and made the rest of the journey in two vehicles, including a van.
"We got gas and took a bathroom break or two," said the elder Sylvester. "My reasoning for doing it is ... when I was in the military I missed a lot of things, like when he played in high school. This is my way of letting him know that when I'm able, I'll be there."
Roderick Sylvester spent 24 years in the U.S. Army before retiring in 2008 after serving multiple tours in Iraq and in South Korea.
He teaches ROTC at Spalding High in Griffin now, and takes trips.
The Sylvesters, including Roderick's wife Barbara and eldest son Roderick Jr., have been to every Georgia Tech game this season.
Mapquest suggested that the trip would be more than 22 hours, but the Sylvesters did it in about 21. They arrived at around 2 a.m. Thursday.
"I hadn't slept much and it kind of hit me at about 7:30 [Thursday night]," Roderick Sr. said. "I passed out."
Mr. Sylvester was up and running Friday.
Roderick Jr., 25, is an educator, according to his father, and the entire family has embarked upon quite a learning experience.
"I have gone to every game this year. This is something that we've done as a family," he said. "If I wasn't there [at a game], my wife was always there."