Aug 23, 2013
By Jon Cooper
– Steven Sylvester knows as well as anyone about the necessity of being home when opportunity knocks.
The former outside linebacker and recent Georgia Tech graduate jumped on the opportunity to become a graduate assistant coach for his alma mater when head coach Paul Johnson came knocking in April. That day was one of the happiest of his post-graduate life.
Ironically, a similar opportunity afforded his older brother, Roderick, led to one of the most bittersweet earlier this week.
On Tuesday, Roderick left for Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emerates, where he will teach English and social studies as part of a program for a teacher recruitment company called “Teach Away.” It’s a two-year commitment, which likely will seem longer with his only sibling some 7,600 miles across the world. That’s much further away than he’s used to.
“We were a military family growing up. It’s only us two, so growing up we were best friends,” said Steven. “We were always together everywhere, making friends together. I was in school with him for a little while, so we always had each other’s back. Our parents taught us, ‘You only get one brother so you have to take care of each other.’ Now that he’s out of the country I’m going to be taking care of him from afar.”
The younger brother admits he wasn’t really surprised that his older brother by three years would take on such an ambitious challenge.
“He’s always been the type of guy, to kind of be outside of the box,” said Sylvester on Tuesday evening, shortly after football practice and only a few hours after Roderick left for the airport. “He kind of wanted to switch it up. He knew he liked teaching, but he kind of wanted to broaden his horizons. So he started researching ways to get out and he found this program, Teach Away. It’s a program that allows you to go all over the world and teach.”
If there was a surprise it was how quickly Roderick’s departure day snuck up on him. He knew back in late February that his brother accepted the job and would be leaving in August. Of course, that was before he was hired by Tech to help coach the B-Backs, spring practice then training camp.
“It’s one of those things that you don’t think about,” he said. “When he gets offered the job at the end of February, well August is forever away. Before you know it, the end of July is rolling around. We’re in camp so I don’t get a chance to hang out with him as much and then the day is here.”
There is a possibility that Broderick could be back stateside in as few as six months — there is a six-month trial period — but that’s where his brother’s happiness comes in and the last thing Steven would want is to wish ill on his sibling’s dream. He’s expecting to go the distance on this, while he prepares for the Yellow Jackets’ season-opener next week.
“He’ll be over there for six months, kind of see how he likes it,” he said. “But if I know my brother he’s going to love it so he’ll be over there for the full two years.”
Steven posted a heartfelt note on Facebook on Tuesday and said that regardless of how long Roderick is away, he will find a way to talk with him on a frequent basis — although not daily as when both were in Georgia. That’s going to be an adjustment but one he’ll willingly make. He’s expecting to find himself on Skype a lot.
“We talked every day,” he said. “We talked EVERY day whether it be a text message, phone call, e-mail. It’s going to be a little different not hearing from him but we’ll get on the same page eventually.”
Get Sting Daily in your e-mail box — it’s free! Just register here to get the latest features on Georgia Tech Athletics.