BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — It was 2010, and Tyler Schilhabel had just led the Independence Falcons to victory.
Starting on varsity for the first time, the junior quarterback hoisted his team to a close win over Clovis North in the season opener.
That was the last football game Schilhabel would ever play. But his football journey was just beginning.
“Every stop that I’ve had along the way has definitely played a role,” Schilhabel said. “I’m grateful for all the opportunities that I’ve had and it’s definitely as a result of my accident.”
That’s how Schilhabel refers to the ATV crash two days after that season opener, the crash that paralyzed him from the chest down. Then 16, he spent three weeks at Stanford Medical Center.
“Long process,” Schilhabel said. “Pretty much learning how to do everything like a little baby would.”
His recovery was up and down. Six months in, he knew he’d never walk again, but he tried to keep his head up.
“My attitude has always been like that, just to stay positive through any type of adversity,” Schilhabel said at the time of his injury.
From Bakersfield to college at Boise State to a coaching position with the University of Utah, football provided a guiding light.
“I knew that I always wanted to be involved with football,” Schilhabel said. “I wanted to coach or have some sort of administrative role, maybe at a college or NFL level.”
Schilhabel has a Division I coaching resume. He exchanges texts with Jim Harbaugh. So why is he back here, coaching at Independence?
“That deep connection felt like I had a place here, that this was my home,” Schilhabel said. “I could make a difference not just on the field but in these boys’ lives.”
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It’s 2021, and Tyler Schilhabel has led the Independence Falcons to victory. Nine in a row, to be exact.
He’s made good on his promise to make a difference, on and off the field.
“Maybe 11 and a half years ago after my accident, could I imagine myself in this position?” Schilhabel asks himself. “Maybe not. But once again, it’s all due to the faith that I have, the family that I have, and then football.”
Faith, family and football.
“I call it the three F’s, faith, family and football,” Schilhabel said.
But there are four F’s at the heart of Schilhabel’s life.
That last one?