Nearly eight years ago, a high school football standout in California was paralyzed from the chest down after an ATV accident.
Now, he is back at his alma mater as the head football coach.
Tyler Schilhabel was the quarterback at Independence High (Bakersfield, Calif.) until getting into an accident at Pismo Beach when he was 16 years old.
“I flew off a 30-foot sand dune, which resulted in me being paralyzed from the chest down, T4 paraplegic,” Schilhabel told Bakersfield’s KERO-TV.
Nearly eight years after his accident, he is back home on the Independence High School football field as the team’s head coach.
Schilhabel was announced as the team’s new head coach on May 24.
“I never let the accident control me. I had a great support system here in town,” Schilhabel told KERO. “From the school, from my family had some great influences in my life that really propelled me to where I am now.”
For the past year and a half, Schilhabel was a special teams assistant coach at the University of Utah.
The Utah Valley University alum says he always wanted to come back to his alma mater as a coach after enjoying so much success as a player prior to his accident.
“Being out here does something for not only my physical state, but my mental state,” he told KERO. “Football is a huge release, whether I was playing or coaching, you know it is a way to escape your daily life.”
After years of physical therapy, he is still in a wheelchair. While Schilhabel told KERO that doctors say it is unlikely he will ever walk again, the new head coach is still hopeful.
Schilhabel inherits a team that went 7-4 last year and took a share of the South Yosemite League title under Lucas Lutero.
“I’m confident that there might be some science is going to come up with in the next ten to fifteen years,” he said, “but until then I am just staying healthy and living the best life that I can.”
He certainly appears to be doing just that.