During his high school football days, Travis Roland was easy to spot on the field. He was one of the vocal team captains who created a spark before game time. As an assistant coach for Mainland, he still sticks out on the sidelines, sporting his neon ball cap.
Although his life has always revolved around football, Roland has spent the last six years on the sidelines, calling out the X’s and O’s, rather than participating in them. Yes, he’s realized there are big differences between the two.
“The biggest difference is patience,” Roland said. “As a player, I could go out there and do it myself, but, as a coach, you have to rely on your players to get the job done.”
As a former player, Roland understands team chemistry a lot better than most coaches who never played. He knows how to reach players who may have difficulty jelling with the rest of the squad. He knows how to react in the big moments of games. Perhaps, one of his greatest advantages is that he trains with the players. Roland credits his former coach, Rodney Smith, assistant principal at Deltona High School, for instilling a work ethic in him that he’s passed on to his players, who are now receiving Division I football offers, and being able to identify with his players.
“When Coach Rod pushed us so hard and helped shape us, it just made us respect him even more,” Roland said. “While we hated the everyday grind, we loved him for putting in the time with us, and that’s what makes our coaching staff work as hard as we do. We know our kids will appreciate all the time we put in with them. Training with the kids also creates camaraderie, and it helps keep me in shape.”
Roland played defense and captained for the Buccaneers from 2000 to 2004, and helped Mainland win the 6A state championship his senior year. After a college career at Bethune-Cookman and a few years in the Arena Football League, he returned to his hometown to join the coaching staff that once coached him. His tenure at his alma mater lasted for only a year before he took a position with the Seabreeze Sandcrabs, Mainland’s arch and crosstown rival.
“I was getting married, and Seabreeze had a teaching job for me, so that was the main reason I was over there,” he said. “Honestly, it was tough that I was going to coach with the rival, but I looked at it as a business decision because I had to provide for my wife and my family.”
For two years, Roland coached against the school he graduated from, his parents taught at and all his cousins had previously attended, but when Scott Wilson took Mainland’s head coaching position, he summoned one of the school’s greatest players.
“Coach Wilson is all about family,” Roland said. “He called me and said, ‘Travis, you need to come back home to where you belong,’ and I agreed with him. He also offered me the defensive coordinator job, so getting promoted and being able to come back home made it easy for me.”
Back with his family, Roland hopes to help his school get back to and win the 6A title.
“There is no other organization that I love more than Mainland,” he said, “so to be a part of Mainland’s history means a lot to me, and to get another championship would be a big deal, being able to brag about my school.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Mainland’s 2003-04 state championship still remains the only football title in Volusia County’s history.