National News

Paralyzed football player taking on new role on the field

Posted June 14, 2018 4:52 p.m. EDT

— Tyler Schilhabel's life has come full circle as he takes on a new role on the football field where he once played.

Schilhabel was once the star quarterback at Independence High School until he got into an ATV accident in Pismo Beach.

"I flew off a 30-foot sand dune, which resulted in me being paralyzed from the chest down, T4 paraplegic," Schilhabel told 23ABC.

After years of physical therapy, he is still in a wheelchair. Schilhabel says that doctors told him it is unlikely he will ever walk again, but he is still hopeful.

"I'm confident that there might be some science is going to come up with in the next ten to fifteen years, but until then I am just staying healthy and living the best life that I can," he said.

Nearly 8 years after his accident, he is back home on the Independence High School football field as the team's head coach.

"I never let the accident control me. I had a great support system here in town. From the school, from my family had some great influences in my life that really propelled me to where I am now," Schilhabel said.

For he past year and a half, he was the special teams assistant coach at the University of Utah. He says he always wanted to come back to Bakersfield and coach on the field where he made so many memories.

"Being out here does something for not only my physical state, but my mental state," he told 23ABC. "Football is a huge release, whether I was playing or coaching, you know it is a way to escape your daily life."

Now doing what he loves, he is inspiring others with his strength.

"You have two choices, you can either fold and let the pressures of everything that is against you, crumble you and take you down. Or, you can make the choice to fight it and combat it with everything that you have."