J’dyn Francia, the ‘Gentle Giant’

Unless he’s on the field, protecting the quarterback by blocking the opponents from rushing, J’dyn Francia doesn’t enjoy being a 6’2 freshman. Even when playing football, he doesn’t find his height to be that beneficial. “Height doesn’t help me at all,” he notes, regarding his position as Line Tackle for the Jackson Heights Vikings, a Tampa football team for kids aged 5-14 . “The way it works is the closer they are to the ground the harder it is for them to push you.”

There are many reasons Francia doesn’t like being big. One challenge especially: finding size 16 shoes. “It’s horrible when I go into like Foot Locker, [they ask] ‘can I help you?’ ‘Yeah, do you have shoes for giants?’” he said. He ends up buying his shoes online.

Height also doesn’t have any benefits for his favorite activity, reading. He enjoys fantasy books, especially Rick Riordan’s series, The Kane Chronicles

Francia describes squeezing into his moms ‘97 Toyota Corolla, a relatively small car. He hits his head on the roof trying to squeeze in. “It’s all minor inconveniences,” he said. “There’s not really any benefits to being big.” In their house now, he ducks to avoid hitting his head on the archway that separates the living room from the hallway.

However, he does get to have the couch to himself for watching tv and reading. He says he is often compared to the other men in his family, his grandpa and is uncle, who are also tall; his grandpa being 6’5 and his uncle being 6’3. His dad’s height, he doesn’t know. His dad hasn’t been in his life for a long time he says.

Francia says he doesn’t let his dad’s absence affect him at all. Raised by only his mother with help from family and family friends, his relationship with her is very close. Living together in small houses when Francia was younger, he thinks fueled that closeness between them.

He thinks he could be described as a gentle giant, a character archetype found in tons of books and movies. His science teacher Alexis Cooke agrees.

“He’s an awesome student,” she says. “I’d definitely describe him as a gentle giant.” She says he’s often found cracking jokes or trying to explain certain video games to her. This year, his favorite class is science because of Cooke. She says he’s one of the only kids in his period with a good grade in her class.

“When you are as tall as he is, especially as a freshman, people notice you,” said Cooke, addressing the reasons Francia may not like his size.

Despite wishing he was smaller, Francia makes the best of his height proving to be successful Line Tackle for the Jackson Heights Vikings and stretching to take up the entire couch so he doesn’t have to share.