Being a college student is about time management. Between classes, a social life, and participating in clubs and organizations, life is a constant balancing act.
Throw in being a student athlete. On top of being a typical college student, there's weightlifting at 6 a.m., two-hour practices, study hall, and traveling to away games.
Now add being a father to 6-month-old twins. That's the life of Coastal Carolina running back Jacquez Hairston.
“When my girlfriend and I found out that we were going to be parents, there was a lot of emotions,” Hairston said. “We were scared. We were nervous, but we were also excited.”
Hairston and his girlfriend, Taylor Lordi, met in the fall semester of 2017 and started dating toward the end of that school year. In October 2018, Hairston and Lordi found out they were having twins.
With the babies expected to arrive in April, both Hairston and Lordi agreed it would be best for Hairston to continue his education and play football if he was able to balance it all.
“When we first talked about it, everything seemed so much easier,” Lordi said. “Everyone’s No. 1 thing was that he had to finish school. No matter what it took. Myself, Jacquez, my family and his family all agreed that he had to finish getting his degree.”
On Mar. 11, 2019, Lordi and Hairston welcomed Ryleigh Sue and Aubrey Angela Hairston into the world.
“They arrived into this world at the perfect time,” Hairston said. “They were born when spring break had just started. So I had time to get accustomed to them, help around the house and be there for Taylor before I had to get back to morning workouts and classes.”
When spring camp arrived, Hairston met with his position coach Newland Isaac to get advice and to plan for the 2019 season.
“The first thing we talked about was that his family came first,” Isaac said. “That was going to take precedent over meetings and everything. We also wanted to let him know that if there was anything that he needed, we were going to be there for him.”
Lordi said that while Hairston is sometimes stuck on campus throughout the day, he goes above and beyond with what little free time he has to come home and spend time with his family.
“It’s amazing. I don’t know how he does it,” she said. “Sometimes, I look at myself and I say ‘I don’t know how I’m doing it’. If he does get a break, he will go out of his way to come home and spend 20 minutes with me and the kids. That 20 minutes might seem stupid to some people but it’s important to us.”
Hairston said that it is extremely frustrating for him to be away for so long during the day.
“When it comes to me going to school and playing football, she’s so supportive,” Hairston said of his partner. “She tells me all the time that she doesn’t know how I do it, but when I see her at home and the kids are fussy, I tell her that we’re going through this together but I can’t imagine how frustrating it is when she has to do this by herself.”
Classes started at Coastal Carolina Aug. 21 and luckily for Hairston, many of his classes are online.
“My advisor really helped me out with my fall semester class schedule,” he said. “I’m looking forward to my classes and getting my education, but the fact is that a lot of my classes are online. So that allows me to spend more time at home with my family than if I would have classes on campus.”
Coastal Carolina football opened fall camp on Aug. 2. Since practice started, Hairston has been committed to his team as well.
“His dedication to the team and to his family has been amazing,” Isaac said. “He has not missed a meeting or a practice, nor has he been late. You would not think that this man just became a father. He has been locked in and super focused.”
Isaac said that Hairston becoming a father helped him mature.
“Before he had the babies, he had a few missed assignments,” he said. “But he has grown into his role the past few months and understood the responsibilities he has across the board from family to football to academics.”
That kind of dedication in a player shows what kind of teammate he is and what kind of man Hairston will become in the future, Isaac said.
“Jacquez is the kind of guy we like to call ‘the count on guy’,” he said. “We know that we can truly count on him. If he can maintain the GPA that he has, come out here and do what we ask him to do and then go home at night to take care of two babies, and he is doing that every single night? I mean, that just shows how strong of a kid he is mentally, physically and emotionally.”