When professional athletes return to their hometown to give back, it’s a magical moment. Such was the case recently when former Shaw High School football player Philip Wheeler visited students at WRBL Partner in Education Loyd Elementary at Fort Benning.
Students at Loyd probably felt like they were at a football camp. Smiths Station freshman football coach Charles Flowers brought some of his players to give students an up close and personal look at the gear used to play the game. The players even demonstrated how to run some football plays.
But the highlight of the day was when Coach Flowers introduced current Miami Dolphins Linebacker Philip Wheeler. Philip played for Flowers in the early 2000’s at Shaw High School. Wheeler went on to play college ball at Georgia Tech. Then it was on to the NFL where he played for Indianapolis, Oakland and now Miami.
Coach Flowers says despite his success, Philip is still the same player on the inside. “That same modesty that he had in high school hasn’t changed very much. He truly epitomizes the student-athlete. His character is still way, way above what you would normally see for someone who’s had the amount of success that he has.”
And character was one of Philip’s focal points during his talk with the Loyd students. He told them, “I feel like people with friends, they have friends for a reason. That’s because they care about each other. They care about different people and they’re willing to do things for them even though they’re not going to get anything in return. That’s my definition of character.”
Wheeler challenged the kids to make good lifestyle choices. “Eating right, exercising and just staying out of trouble will help you get a long way in life,” Wheeler said.
He realizes the value of taking time out of his busy pro schedule to give back. He says, “It’s very important whenever I have an opportunity, and I’m glad Coach Flowers asked me to come do this, come talk to elementary school. I just take full advantage of it because I know it’s the right thing to do.”
Wheeler still has relatives who live in Columbus. He helped lead Shaw to the state football championship during his sophomore year in 2000.