SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Cpl. Steven Bryant’s dedication to his community leaves him with little free time, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Bryant is a line supervisor for the Longwood Police Department working the overnight shift from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., while he spends his days filling the role of president and head coach for the Winter Springs Grizzlies Pop Warner football team.
Bryant has coached football for six years and been a head coach for three, but this year he took on the additional duties of president of the club. That means not only being a role model for youth on and off the field, but also working on the budget, checking helmets and safety equipment, approving purchases, meeting with the city of Winter Springs, being a liaison with parents and so much more.
With all those duties along with being a police officer, Bryant isn’t left with much time, sometimes running on just a few hours of sleep.
“There are times that I get a max of an hour and a half, two hours of sleep and then I’m back at it and it just keeps me going though because knowing that what I’m doing is priceless,” Bryant said. “My grandma I said I could sleep when I’m dead. I just keep pushing for the kids.”
Bryant said the reward and the impact he’s having is what keeps him going along with the smiles of excitement he sees on kids’ faces.
“I think it’s this excitement that I’ve been able to generate within the community,” Bryant said. “It’s just rewarding to see the kids, this happiness of being back out playing, going to championships. Them coming up to me as a coach to give me hugs or one of my first players he’s got his first scholarship this year.”
As a head coach, he preaches accountability to his players, and that’s exactly what Bryant does himself. He’s holding himself accountable for creating a better relationship between law enforcement and his community here in Central Florida.
“I think seeing law enforcement in the community is the first step to trying to bridge the gap that has formed through the years,” Bryant explained. “And I think that’s the first step that a lot of law enforcement officers have to do. They have to start getting out in the community, start talking to your citizens, just go.”
It’s a balance that Bryant learned here in Central Florida growing up in Winter Park. He had law enforcement officers as his football coaches, and he learned firsthand about the impact of the same role he’s portraying today.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that if my coaches growing up weren’t police officers, I don’t believe I would be a police officer today,” Bryant exclaimed. “I saw the bond. It kind of showed me that being a police officer, it’s very much a rewarding career. To be able to give back to the youth, and let the youth see we’re police officers, we’re super cool, we’re still really down the earth, and like kids.”
And while Bryant’s two roles may seem quite different, there’s definitely a lot of overlap. Bryant is a police officer that other law enforcement officials can rely on when they need help approaching youth in the area.
“Even on the night shifts and other shifts within the agency, when they come in contact with a juvenile that’s possibly having some issues or getting in trouble, or just need an outlet, my guys know to call me at any given time,” Bryant said.
Bryant said he’s able to give these kids a release, something else to do other than possibly getting in trouble.
“It’s 100% rewarding to know that my guys can call me, and I can give these kids either an outlet or give these kids something else to do,” Bryant explained. “They’re just looking for a program to have the camaraderie with other kids and be in a good place instead of just being out in the streets.”
The best part of coaching isn’t the wins for Bryant. While he says would really like to win the Mid Florida Championship this year after making it to the final game two years in a row, he says it’s knowing the impact he’s making on local youth; it’s the memories that his players will have of him for a long time.
“I want my players and kids that I come in contact with, and they don’t have to be my players, it can be cheerleaders, whatever it may be, I want them to know that they can come to me anytime, and that I’ll do my best to help them at any point.”