USAG Grafenwoehr celebrates Month of the Military Child

VILSECK, Germany -- Shawn Peebles Jr. is a study in contrasts.

Soft-spoken and unassuming, he talks modestly about himself, capping most answers with a short, almost nervous chuckle.

On the football field, it's a different story.

His highlight reel on shows the 5-foot 11-inch, 190-pound junior dancing through defenders, bursting through tackles, and just outrunning opponents.

It's hard to reconcile that the same person who is so hard to tackle is so easy to miss as he glides through the halls at Vilseck High School.

But for his teachers and coaches, it's no mystery how Peebles, a three-sport athlete who carries a 3.0 GPA, bridges athletics and academics.

Kevin Anglim, VHS art teacher and head cross country coach, said he was impressed by Peebles' ability to internalize lessons and adapt his skills to meet Anglim's expectations.

"He improved rapidly in the arts and it is nice to see a big, tough guy like him also have a sensitive side and embrace drawing and painting," Anglim said via e-mail.

Eric Mead, the assistant football coach and head track coach, expanded on Anglim's perspective.
"It is obvious that Shawn is blessed with athletic talent," Mead said via e-mail. "But it is not his talent that makes him such a great athlete. It is his dedication and ability to be coached that make him so good."

Mead would know.

At a track meet in Ansbach Peebles took first in the 100-meter (11.29 seconds), and 200-meter (23.73) races, and second in the 400-meter (52.73) event, according to Mead said Peebles' 100-meter time is currently the fastest in Europe.

To achieve these goals, Peebles relies on intrinsic motivation but also gets a boost from his family. His pregame ritual is sacred.

"I don't talk to anyone," Peebles said. "I just stretch, listen to music and get in my zone."
And although his stepfather, Cpl. Lemounte Scott, a supply specialist with the 172nd Infantry Brigade, is currently deployed to Afghanistan, Peebles said he still has a large presence in Peebles' life.

"We talk to him a lot and he knows about everything that's going on," Peebles said. "I still perform as if he's here, on and off the field."

Peebles' mother, Jennifer Scott, is a workforce preparation specialist with the U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr's Child, Youth and School Services, and runs the HIRED and mentorship programs for middle and high school students.

Peebles worked at the School Age Center and in youth sports as part of the HIRED program for the past two summers but didn't receive any preferential treatment from his mom.

"She treated me just like everyone else," Peebles said, laughing.

For the future, he hopes to build on his athletic resume during his senior year, which already includes being named VHS' Offensive Player of the Year, All Conference 1st Team as a running back, and All Europe 1st Team as a linebacker in 2011. In addition, he was named the MVP in both running back and linebacker positions at last year's DODDS-Europe Football Camp.

"Hopefully I'll go to college for football," he said, mentioning Florida State as his dream school.

As this school year comes to a close Peebles continues to juggle grades and the gridiron.

This Saturday he'll take the SATs, and in July he'll attend something akin to a combine for high school football players, where he'll put up his best numbers in the 40-yard dash, vertical leap, bench press and squat, and hope to draw the attention of college coaches and scouts.
For now, he's just taking it one step at a time.

He recently qualified to compete in the 100- and 400-meter races at the 2012 DODDS-Europe track and field championships in Wiesbaden, May 25-26.

That weekend before he steps into the blocks he'll go through his pregame ritual. He'll put on his iPod and the slow, thick beat of Wale's "Ambition" will fill his ears. He won't say much to those around him, and he won't have to -- his actions will say it all.