They share the same name – Eric Stroman – but nobody on the football field really called either of them Eric. The elder was 'Hollywood,' because he was well known, not only in Aiken but around the state, for his play on the football field in the late 90s. His son – the younger Stroman – is just 'Stroman' or 'Stro' most times. He's not the flashy type and just goes about his business.
Ironically, it's kind of hard to tell which Stroman has had the bigger impact on the other.
“He taught me everything,” the younger Stroman said. “He taught me how to understand the game more. He taught me how to get in my defensive stance, how to come off the ball faster and how to use my hands better.”
What Stroman Jr. might not fully realize is how important he was in the growth of one of Aiken's most memorable football stars. The younger Stroman was born when his dad was a junior at Aiken High, and he changed everything.
“He was the best thing that ever happened to me. He taught me a lot. He taught me how to focus. I knew that I had to be something more than an Aiken High hero,” the elder Stroman said. “I had to be someone who went off and got my education and set that positive example for him.”
Current Aiken High head coach J.W. Montgomery has no complaints about the example the elder Stroman has set for the younger Stroman. Montgomery said he wishes he had 100 players just like Stroman Jr.
Seventeen years after the elder Stroman graduated and went off to the University of South Carolina, his son is now one of the anchors of the defensive and offensive lines for the Hornets.
“He's a wonderful kid to coach. He's a kid who pours his heart and soul into it and gives 110 percent effort everyday,” Montgomery said. “He definitely stands out.”
A lot has always been expected from the younger Stroman. His dad said he's always been a naturally talented and strong kid. The elder Stroman remembers bragging to his friends about what his son could do at a very young age. However, the younger Stroman hasn't been focused on living up to the hype. Instead, he's had his mind set on having a positive impact on his teammates.
“Obviously, it's big shoes to fill with him being him and me being the son of the great Eric Stroman,” the younger Stroman said. “I just try to be the best leader I can. I try to separate myself from him a little bit.”
But there's one area where the younger Stroman has been aiming to be like his father for a while. The elder Stroman holds the single season sack record for Aiken High School after making 15 in 2000.
The younger Stroman made it clear at a young age that one of his goals was to eclipse the record his father set.
“For me, it was that persona. I wanted to dominate, and getting that sack record was a big deal for me,” the elder Stroman said. “I never knew 15-20 years later he would be coming behind me chasing that same record.”
The record will likely stand for now, but the elder Stroman said his son has already surpassed him in many ways on the football field. His son played a crucial role on the varsity football team as a freshman a few years ago.
“My freshman year, I was supposed to play varsity, and I was too scared too play. I did not want to play varsity; I asked Coach (Carey) Johnson to bring me back down,” the elder Stroman said. “To see him achieve something I was too scared to do made me extremely proud of him.”
"Even with all the things I've accomplished in high school and college, there's nothing more gratifying than seeing him out here playing,” he added.