Willing to excel: Jalyx Hunt finds his path and develops his craft

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Willing to excel: Jalyx Hunt finds his path and develops his craft

"I have always wanted to experience the whole atmosphere of college football," Hunt said. " I've always watched teams on tv and I've always wanted to be that guy that the camera zooms in on after he makes a big play."

"I have always wanted to experience the whole atmosphere of college football," Hunt said. " I've always watched teams on tv and I've always wanted to be that guy that the camera zooms in on after he makes a big play."

"I have always wanted to experience the whole atmosphere of college football," Hunt said. " I've always watched teams on tv and I've always wanted to be that guy that the camera zooms in on after he makes a big play."

Alexus Cleavenger

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The clock is ticking. It is the last couple seconds of the first game vs. Deltona High School. Striding onto the field with his head held high, senior Jalyx Hunt and his team are determined to get another score on the board. Anticipation fills the air and fans are on the edge of their seats. As the quarterback throws the ball the pass is complete. Hunt catches it over the defensive back, shifts to safety and scores.The crowd and the fans in student section roar with enthusiasm, and the cheerleaders prepare to throw six basket tosses by the end zone. His teammates gather around him as he celebrates another memorable play in his list of achievements. 

A glimpse into the past

Inside the doors of their two-bedroom house, four-year-old Jalyx spent his time dribbling a small basketball. Sports always came natural to him and he never passed an opportunity to throw a ball around. His family struggled financially, but that did not stop him from being a kid. 

“I had a little Fisher Price hoop, and I would always shoot the small basketball into the hoop,” Hunt said. “I would stand by my couch and shoot it across the room.”

Growing up in South Florida, Hunt had a rocky childhood. His family lived day-to-day on one income. At the time, his dad was going through medical school, which took a toll on his family’s expenses. 

“Even though my parents never told us money was tight, you could always see it in their faces that they were stressed,” Hunt said. “But they always made sure my sister and I had everything we needed.”

Hunt was the new kid at his elementary school and in third grade he was bullied for his weight. Dealing with the bullies was another challenge for him, but after he figured out that he had a humorous personality, cracking a joke or two helped him make friends. 

“At first, I was really skeptical about making friends because I had trust issues, but after I started accepting people and giving them a chance, it felt really good,” Hunt said. “I enjoyed having someone to talk to all the time and have fun with.”

A couple of years later, his family moved to a small town in Maryland to start fresh. As a nine-year-old, moving to a new state can be hard, but it was better for Hunt’s family.

“At first I was mad about moving,” Hunt said. “After I thought about all the opportunities I had in Maryland, I accepted it and stopped trying to fight it.”

Finding the right path

After he moved to Maryland, Hunt parents sat him and his sister down to discover what they wanted to achieve in life. They made them write down a list of their goals so they would never go down the wrong path.

“When my parents first sat us down to make us write down our goals, I thought it was silly,” Hunt said. “Now that I’m older I really appreciate it. Even though I have lost that paper, I still am able to visualize my goals and whenever I am thinking about my goals, I picture the paper and I can see all seven of them.”

As a young child, Hunt never played in sports leagues until he moved to Maryland. When he moved, his parents let him join football and he fell in love with it. Upon entering his freshman year, he tried out for the football team at Dutch Fork High School in South Carolina and made the Varsity team. 

“It was a really big confidence builder and self assuring,” Hunt said. “It showed me that I had a chance to be really good because the coaches saw something in me that they felt could help the team.”

Within a year he moved schools again and started his football career on campus. Going from Maryland to Florida the weather change is drastic and the humid Florida heat was difficult to get used to. 

“The first day of summer practice, we ran four, four hundreds, and four, one hundreds,” Hunt said. “After the second, one hundred I started to feel woozy, but I didn’t want to tell anybody because I didn’t want to be known as the quitter on my first day.”

Nearly losing it all

Going into his junior year, Hunt almost gave football up. He sprained his hip flexor and struggled to bounce back from it. His motivation declined, and he was not growing anymore. He stopped attending football practice and focused his attention towards school. 

“I was feeling pretty down during that time,” Hunt said. “I would go to school and then come home. I didn’t go to football or do anything football related. I just wanted to get away from it entirely.”

Before he could decide to quit football entirely, his dad, [a former football player for Ole Miss], helped him rekindle his love for the game. 

“He reminded me that I’ve been playing football forever, and that I am a good athlete who works hard,” Hunt said. “ He knows my dreams of playing football in college, and he told me not to give up on it.”

The pain of his injury never phased him, but once he realized he was out of football for a while , it hit him. Hunt grew mentally strong and with the repetition of ice, heat, and stretches he was able to recover. 

“I did not want to be hurt,” Hunt said. “In my mind I told myself I wasn’t hurt, no matter how much it hurt.”

“This past season I sprained my ankle in the third game of the season,” Hunt said. “I felt like I was letting my team down. The fact that I could not physically lead the team and impact the game.”

Committed to the game 

Hunt knew he wanted to pursue football after high school. He continued to work hard and received his first offer from Colby College. That offer opened up other offers and the decision-making process became more complex. With the help of his supportive parents, Hunt was able to make a decision and take up Cornell University on their offer. 

“When I think about Cornell, I get excited because I’m starting a new chapter in my life,” Hunt said. “I always like taking chances.”

Hunt’s football record was not the only reason Cornell had their eyes on him. His academic history also qualified him for this offer. Throughout high school, he took hard classes and kept his grades up. 

“My parents have always pushed my sister and I to get an education,” Hunt said. “If you don’t have the grades, you really can’t do anything. I wanted to have the best opportunity to have a successful career.”

Without regrets, Hunt continues to direct himself down the right path and carries an optimistic mindset. He is ready for any challenge that may come along during his years of college.

“I know it’s going to be hard to balance football in college and focusing on my major,” Hunt said. “I know that football in college is more of a job, so I know I am going to have to be focused on both, but I think I will be able to handle it easily.”

Hunt continues to work hard and always strives for success. He has a vision for his life after college.

“In the future I see myself definitely owning a company and having a family,” Hunt said. “I want to help kids who are in poverty and be a good person. Most importantly, I want to help others.”