By Doug Gorman
Recent Jonesboro High School graduate Stephan Philyaw can best be described as an outgoing and ambitious young man.
He used those two traits to enjoy his high school experience to the fullest. As a member of the Jonesboro High School baseball and basketball team, Philyaw participated in state tournaments in both sports.
He also put a great deal of emphasis on his academics. His love of both learning and sports should serve him well as he concentrates now on earning a college degree from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Although Philyaw won't be attending school on an athletic scholarship, he hopes to earn a spot on the basketball or baseball team as a walk on.
His mother Stephannie Bolton is glad her son has turned into such a well-rounded young man.
"He is an athlete at heart, but he knows there are other things that are important. "He has had to make some life decision and character decisions. That's one of the things they looked for, and that's one of the things that got him into school," she said. "They want to develop the whole person."
Searching for a school to call home:
For Philyaw, finding a place to call home wasn't an easy decision.
Although the former Jonesboro athlete knew he wanted to study somewhere on the west coast, he had several options.
Before deciding to enroll at LMU, Philyaw considered Platt and Cogswell, both technical colleges, as well Cal State Northridge and Cal State Hayward.
He also considered Pepperdine University, LMU's biggest rival.
In the end, the final decision was based on LMU's Video gaming animation degree.
"I have always loved video games, and special effects," Philyaw said. "When I watch a movie, I analysis the special effects. I explain things to my friends and I find flaws. "
Of the 8,000 freshman who applied for enrollment at LMU, Philyaw was one of only 1,250 accepted for the upcoming school year.
LMU and his family tradition:
Philyaw won't be the first person in his family to attend the Los Angeles school.
His father Luther was a basketball player for the school and is in the school's Hall of Fame.
"That played a part in my decision," he said. "He was a great athlete there. but they also had my major."
Philyaw also fell in love with the beauty of the campus and the diversity of the university. LMU is about 50 percent white and 50 percent other minorities.
Although it is a Jesuit college, LMU offers students of all denominations a chance for spiritual growth.
Building a solid support system:
In addition to being popular among his fellow classmates, Philyaw was well-liked
among faculty members at Jonesboro.
He gives credit to Melissa Langlois, an English teacher at Jonesboro, for getting him ready for college.
"She helped me develop a love for reading," he said.
Jonesboro principal Derrick Williams also served as a mentor for Philyaw.
"He was there to listen to me and guide me," he said.
Williams supported Philyaw's decision to leave the basketball team before the end of the senior for personal reasons, and that was something the student-athlete admired about his principal.
Pete Brannan, who taught in the technical school at Jonesboro, also served as an advisor for Philyaw.
All three wrote letters of recommendation for Philyaw while he was going through the enrollment process.
His love of sports:
Philyaw has always had a passion for sports, and is hoping he can land a spot on either the LMU baseball or basketball team, maybe both.
"Sports is very important to me," he said. "Playing sports is healthy;, I'm used to an active life style."
Before beginning his high school career at Jonesboro, Philyaw honed his baseball career in the local Jonesboro recreation leagues.
Some of his former teammates during his rec ball days included Jeremy Hardy, who helped lead Henry County High School to a state title this year, Zach Warho, who started his high school career at Jonesboro before transferring to Eagle's Landing Christian Academy and playing in the Class A Final Four.
He also played recreation baseball with Jonesboro teammate Harold Walker.
In addition to his teammates, friendships were also important to Philyaw through his high school days.
Philyaw says he and Carlos Blackmon are like brothers.
Philyaw has had plenty of role models growing up. His family tree has an impressive link to both athletics and show business.
His grandfather Steve Clark was a professional dancer, working for entertainers such as Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. He also appeared on the old Ed Sullivan show.
His uncle Russell Clark was a choreographer for several movies, including the Banger Sisters and Why do Fools Fall in Love.
Cousin Charles Philyaw played for the Oakland Athetics, and former Riverdale standout Darrayl Blaze played baseball at Georgia and in the minor leagues.
His cousin Damon Jones also showed Philyaw he could have a balance between athletics and academics. Jones played baseball at UC Santa Barbara, then went to Harvard Law School.
Today, he is a practicing lawyer.
Philyaw's step father Michael Bolton also is a strong influence in his life.
More than anything else, Philyaw wants is grateful for those who have been apart of his life.
"I'm just thankful for my parents, the parents of my friends and teammates for always being there for me," he said.
More than anything else, he says:
"I want to be remembered not for what I did, but what I didn't do."