As regular readers of this author will know, I have a soft spot for those who go from the world of U.S. special operations to the fire service.  Likewise, I admire those who stand out as parents and raise their kids using the skills, principals, and traits they developed in their professional lives within the special operations community.  I write about those subjects fairly regularly, after all, but it is a rare occasion when I get to combine them all into one article.

Today, I get to do so, as I introduce you to Taven Bryan, by way of an article in CNN’s Bleacher Report.

Bryan is a 6’5” 295-pound defensive lineman for the University of Florida Gators, and the son of former Navy SEAL and current Casper, Wyoming, firefighter Brandy Bryan.  Taven did not earn a spot in the Gators’ football program based solely on his physical ability, although that would have probably been enough given his speed, size, and athleticism.  Rather, his father also instilled in him a work ethic forged through hours spent working alongside his son in the construction business.

It is a little-known fact outside of the fire service that most firefighters work two jobs.  The schedule allows for it, given the typical 24 or 48 hours on duty, followed by 48 or 72 hours off.  That gives most firefighters plenty of time to work as builders, framers, plumbers, electricians, HVAC guys, and/or writers.  The relatively low pay of most firefighters also usually pushes them to look for a second source of regular income.  

Any time I have something break in the house that is beyond my scope to repair (an admittedly large range of issues, honestly), the first thing the marital partner will do is ask me which of my firefighter buddies can come fix it.  It is just a given that someone in that group of 250 or so will have the skills to do it, owing to a second job they work.

In this case, Taven’s firefighter father Brandy works construction on the side.  When Taven was seven years old, he began working alongside his father in the business.  At first, young Taven merely swept floors or did other light work.  As he became older, though, Taven did more and more difficult manual labor.  Brandy thought it important, according to the article, to pass on to his children the values of hard work and pushing oneself beyond one’s own limits.  Surely the SEAL part of Brandy played a part in his desire to instill those values in his kids.  The principal of hard work, never giving up, and pushing oneself to the breaking point are hallmarks of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training.

For Taven, incorporating those values into his own life paid off on the football field.  The behemoth of a man earned all-state honors in high school, and was ranked number 72 in the nation as a high school offensive lineman.  Though those facts might sound impressive, they did not make him one of the nation’s top recruits as far as most NCAA football programs were concerned.  They did come scouting him, but not aggressively and relentlessly.

Most programs looking at Bryan, additionally, wanted him to play offensive line, where he stood out in high school.  Florida, on the other hand, and in particular, its offensive and special teams coordinators, and former head coach Will Muschamp, made the long trip to Wyoming to see Bryan, and judged him to be a gifted athlete.  They not only decided to recruit Bryan, but they also agreed to allow Taven to make the switch to defensive line, where he wanted to play.