The Carroll kids and their father, Nolan Sr., who grew up in Liberty City, remain Jennifer's biggest cheerleaders.
``When I bubbled in her name on the ballot, it was really special because for the first time, I truly knew, first-hand, what kind of person I was voting for -- a woman with strong opinions, strong work ethic, and the desire to put everyone ahead of herself,'' her son said. ``She loves a challenge, and lets nothing stand in her way.''
She ruled their home with an iron fist -- the product of a strict upbringing and 20 years in the Navy, from which she retired in 1999 with the rank of lieutenant commander. Although her husband, an IT security specialist, also has a military background -- he was in the Air Force -- it was she who enforced the dreaded chore board.
``We had this board hanging in the kitchen with our names and thumb tacks, and there were eight or nine chores we rotated,'' the Dolphins player recalled Monday. ``We had to clean the kitchen, wash the cars, vacuum, clean the patio, take out the trash. She wanted us to be disciplined and responsible. We had to respect elders and do as we were told, and even though I complained at the time, I am thankful for that now.
``The problem today is too many young people don't follow rules. They think the world revolves around them and they don't respect authority.''
Jennifer Carroll, 51, was born in Trinidad and Tobago, and moved to the U.S. when she was 8. She said her parents instilled ``Caribbean old-fashioned values'' in her, and she passed them on to her children.
``We always had tasks for them to do, and nothing short of excellence was accepted,'' she said. ``If they didn't do it right, they had to go back and do it again. The word `can't' wasn't in our vocabulary. We'd say, `Don't tell us what you can't do, tell us what you can do.' There was always structure, after-school activities, sports, no time to hang out. When we went on vacations, it was always as a family. I truly believe that is why our kids are doing so well.''
Nyckie, 21, a former high school track star and homecoming queen, is a senior at the University of Florida. Necho, 17, plays on the Fleming Island High basketball team and is weighing college scholarship offers. And Nolan is making his mark as a kick returner.
Jennifer Carroll sees many similarities between politics and sports, but wishes politicians could be as sportsmanlike as NFL players.
``The Dolphins have their rivals on the field, but at the end of the day, when the final whistle blows, they pat each other on the back and mostly respect each other because of the bond they've formed over the years,'' she said. ``Our politicians could learn from that. Political rivals can't seem to come together for the good of the country. That's really a shame.''