Goodbye Jaycen and Thank You!

When football season is over, there is a little sad atmosphere in the air. Teams break, players and coaches might move forward or end their careers and back offices start to build teams for next year. Sometimes you say goodbye to a person you have seen as a solid part of your team. A person that seems to have been there a long time, although his been only a few years. Now time has come when the ways of Jaycen Spears (Taylor) and Helsinki Roosters parts. Three times Maple Bowl Game MVP is turning a new page in his life by moving to Belgium to start family life.

In his four seasons Jaycen has collected thousand of yards and a lot of touchdowns in his stats. In addition to being an excellent player he has been an excellent coach and mentor to youth teams and Roosters’ running backs. One of Jaycen’s coachees Rooster Women’s running back Jenni Lindén was nominated Women’s Maple league MVP in 2016. She understands his coach’s will to move forward.

– Jaycen has good sense of humor; he is precise and tries to develop us in the best possible way paying attention to everyone’s own strengths. We feel of course sad, but when the iron is hot it must be forged, as we say in Finland. I wish all the best for Jaycen in his life and on the field, either in Finland or everywhere else.

This season Karri Pajarinen has taken a lot of running responsibilities from Jaycen, with good results and he acknowledges Jaycen’s big influence in his own development as a running back

– Being Jaycen’s coachee has been very rewarding. There are no words to describe how much I have learned from him during these years. Without his coaching I wouldn’t have been so successful in Maple League. As a team mate Jay is encouraging, guiding and a good example of a person who fights to the last whistle blow. Since the day we learned about his leaving, the atmosphere has been very sad but at the same time we wish him all the best and happiness in the future.

– I’m in a wistful mood about Jaycen’s leaving, but I’m sure he has some wonderful things waiting for him in his next destination. He’s a splendid person, incredible player and really excellent coach. He is absolutely the most important person in my football career, with whom I’d spend countless of hours on my way to my best season so far. He sees every person as an individual, and gets out the best of everybody of his coachees, full back Else Suutarinen from Roosters Women describes Coach Jaycen.

She is going to miss her coach, but will remember him with warmth.

– Jaycen is a genuine person who finds the ways to support and encourage you in the moments of frustration. He never says what you did wrong; he always focuses to what to do next time or how to correct those mistakes. I really appreciate his positive attitude and his dedication of everything he is doing. So really big thanks for everything you have done Jaycen, I’m going to miss you!

Coach Jaycen, Photo: Anna Tanskanen

Jaycen and his U15 team, last practise.

Here are some quick answers from Jaycen about his being in Finland etc.:

When you look back your time in Finland and Helsinki Roosters what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

– 1st thing that comes to mind is all the Fun I’ve had here and all the amazing people I’ve met. The wonderful experiences that I have been blessed with. How I came here a young man trying to find his way and leaving a ”Man” who has learned a lot about life.

Your first contact with Roosters players were in Eurobowl qualifier in 2013. Do you have any recollection from that game?

– Yes I remember that game. I remember seeing Jarmo (Lahti) for the 1st time and saying ”That’s a huge Man”, hahah. The game was fun, but meeting the Roosters after the game was the highlight of everything. They were nice guys and I was told if I wanted to have a good time to come to Finland. After that it was a no brainer.

 You have played since season 2014 in Finland with the Roosters. How have these years gone and did you expect that you’ll be here year around in 2017?

– My years with the Roosters have been great. Been able to win Championships, travel, meet all kinds of people and just live a great life. I honestly didn’t expect to be here this long but after my first year I fell in love with Finland. I then knew I would be here as long as the Roosters allowed me. I knew I wanted to make Finland home.

As an athlete and coach what has this time given for you?

– As a coach I realized that it’s something that I would really like to continue to do. The feeling seeing the people you coach do well is a wonderful feeling. Seeing them proud of their achievements and knowing you helped get them there. WOW… It’s a feeling…

– As a player?? Hhmm, I just play the game and love the Brotherhood that comes with being on a team.

 What advice would you give to anyone planning to play American football outside their own country?

– Easy… just enjoy it. Yeah you want to win, but that’s not what it’s all about. Look at the opportunity you have been given and appreciate it. No matter how small or big your team is or your salary is you could always be at home not playing ball. Count your Blessings.

Are you willing to enlighten your future plans?

– Hahahah… There are other things in life I would like to experience.  So plans will be simple. Start a family of my own. Coach and build up a team and possibly play still. I mean as long as I have it in me ill play. Train to do other things like an Ironman Triathlon (Bucketlist) and just live out life. MOSTLY stay away from Finnish Winters… Hahahah

What was it like to prepare to the Maple Bowl knowing it’s you last game for Roosters?

– I prepared for this game the hardest I have ever. Knowing this was going to be my last game as a Rooster I wanted to go out with a Bang. I was going and willing to do everything I had to go out on top. My O-line played their hearts out for me and as well as the team. #playforJay they said. Really gonna miss this Family!!

Any farewell message to Roosters players, coaches, other personnel, fans?

– Ah. You wouldn’t have enough space for all I would have to say. But here I will talk to Fans etc…. I want to say Thank You wholeheartedly for coming out and supporting the Roosters in rain, sleet, snow and sunshine (the little we got). We are nothing without the Fans. I just hope that you continue to bring more friends and family to games. Help the organization grow even bigger as well as the SPORT…  See you around.

“The Huge Man” Roosters’ chairman Jarmo Lahti feels like a family member is leaving home, but will keep door open for him.

– Jaycen is an outstanding athlete and person. He has impressed deeply all the people he has been in contact with. He takes all into account equally and is always happy. In last four years Jaycen has been like a son to me and my family. But there comes time when kids leave home and now it has come time for him to start his own family. But the door is always open for Jaycen, if he ever decides to come back to Finland!

Helsinki Roosters wish all the best in the future to Jaycen and his family. Farwell and thank you for all the blood, sweat and smiles you have given for us!


Text: Pekka Lylyharju

Photos: Anna Tanskanen, Emma Hakala, Jarmo Vehkomäki