Tayquan Faulkner has spent nearly his entire life in Staten Island, New York. He was born and raised there, and he lived and breathed Staten Island. Sadly, at just 15 years old, Tayquan found himself fatherless. He was traumatized by this and didn’t know where to turn.
His mother, who also fostered eight other children whom Taquan considered his siblings, learned how to be a single mother. During his freshman year at Curtis High School, Tayquan met Joe Baratta, his math teacher and also one of the varsity football coaches. While Joe would not coach Tayquan for two more years, the two grew close as Joe provided much-needed support to Tayquan, who was still struggling with the loss of his father. Joe and his wife extended an open invitation to Tayquan to come to their home anytime he needed, for dinner or homework help or just to talk. Joe encouraged Tayquan to grow and change for the better, to set goals and work hard to achieve them. According to Tayquan: “Joe has done nothing but go out of his way for me. He has always been on me to become something.”
When Tayquan made the varsity football team as a junior and had Joe as a coach, their relationship deepened. When Tayquan got accepted to college, Joe was there to celebrate with him. And when college didn’t work out and Tayquan returned to Staten Island with an uncertain future, Joe welcomed him with open arms to volunteer with the football team. Joe was instrumental in getting Tayquan to become a coach with the team, through the school’s partnership with Up2Us Sports.
After nearly a decade of teaching, coaching, mentorship and friendship, Tayquan affectionately refers to Joe and his wife as ‘Mom and Pop’. Both fathers now, their children are similar in age and play together as if they were siblings. Theirs is a story, in its purest form, of how a non-biological father has made all the difference in the world to a young man.
Both Tayquan and Joe were featured as a part of #ULTRADAD, a campaign created by Michelob ULTRA to salute traditional and non-traditional father figures. We were proud to join the campaign because so many of our coaches act as father figures for the young people they coach. Learn more here.