Warner Robins High School graduate overcomes medical challenge

jmink@macon.comMay 18, 2013 

  • Midstate graduation schedule

    Bibb County
    Tattnall Square Academy, 7 p.m. Monday, Ingleside Baptist Church
    Windsor Academy, 7 p.m. Tuesday, First Baptist Church of Christ
    Middle Georgia Christian School, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Middle Georgia Christian School
    Woodfield Academy, 7 p.m. Thursday, Mount Zion Baptist Church
    Georgia Academy for the Blind, 11 a.m. Friday, school auditorium
    Howard High School, 3 p.m. Friday, Macon Coliseum
    Central High School, 5 p.m. Friday, Macon Coliseum
    Hutchings Career Center, 7 p.m. Friday, Macon Coliseum
    Central Fellowship Christian Academy, 7 p.m. Friday, high school gym
    Rutland High School, 9 a.m. Saturday, Macon Coliseum
    Northeast High School, noon Saturday, Macon Coliseum
    First Presbyterian Day School, noon Saturday, Ingleside Baptist Church
    Southwest High School, 2 p.m. Saturday, Macon Coliseum
    Westside High School, 4 p.m. Saturday, Macon Coliseum
    Stratford Academy, 5 p.m. Saturday, Macon City Auditorium
    E.L. High School Academy, 5 p.m. June 15, St. Peters Baptist Church

    Bleckley County
    Bleckley County High School, 10 a.m. Saturday, Royal Stadium

    Crawford County
    Crawford County High School, 7 p.m. Thursday, J.B. Hawkins Sports Complex

    Houston County
    Houston County Career Academy, 6 p.m. Friday, Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter
    Northside High School, 8 p.m. Friday, Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter
    Warner Robins High School, 9 a.m. Saturday, Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter
    Veterans High School, noon Saturday, Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter
    Perry High School, 3 p.m. Saturday, Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter
    Houston County High School, 6 p.m. Saturday, Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter

    Jones County
    Jones County High School, 6 p.m. May 31, Centennial Center in Milledgeville

    Monroe County
    Mary Persons High School, 8 p.m. May 31, school football field

    Peach County
    Peach County High School, 8 p.m. May 31, Peach County High School

    Pulaski County
    Hawkinsville High School, 8 p.m. Friday, Hawkinsville High School

    Twiggs County
    Twiggs Academy, 10 a.m. Saturday, school gymnasium

WARNER ROBINS -- Ben Masters might be the most modest student at Warner Robins High School.

He doesn’t brag about being a 10-time champion in three different sports. He rarely talks about being named Most Valuable Player for all three sports in one season. He is quiet about earning a perfect grade point average, putting him in the top 10 students of his class.

And he doesn’t acknowledge that he has accomplished all of this while spending a majority of his childhood with muscular dystrophy, a condition that damages the muscles, making a person progressively weaker. Instead, he tackles everyday challenges with a quiet demeanor and upbeat personality.

Masters was diagnosed with the condition around age 5, and he has faced difficulties. He has encountered rude people who have negative attitudes simply because he is confined to a wheelchair. Limited mobility can make it harder to meet people, though Masters has made several friends in high school.

“It can be difficult at times,” he said.

Still, he does not let obstacles keep him from pursuing his goals, both in the classroom and on the playing field. Masters is a top player in handball, football and basketball for the Houston County Sharks, a role that requires dedication and tough skin.

“There’s nothing soft about it,” John Teague, football coach and science teacher at Warner Robins, said about wheelchair sports. “To watch them do what they do ... he doesn’t let anything get in his way.”

The scariest moment for Masters was during a recent football game. An opponent was in his way, and Masters nearly flipped his own wheelchair trying to get past him. Then there was his initial season as a handball player, when he scored the first two goals in the state championship game.

“I’m really competitive,” he said. “I just like playing against other teams.”

His competitive streak doesn’t apply only to his own games. When he is not playing for the Sharks, Masters often can be found near the end zone at Warner Robins football games.

A dedicated Demons fan, Masters will attend college near home partly so he will be able to continue rooting for his hometown team.

Masters loves his school, where he is greeted in the hallways by friends and has formed a close bond with many teachers. His teachers speak of his academic skills, his eagerness to learn and his strong personality. They don’t mention his medical condition.

“You don’t even think about the fact that he uses a wheelchair,” said Laura Poythress, an English teacher at Warner Robins. “I don’t think of Ben as a handicapped student. I think of him as a great student.”

His favorite subject is science, but when he attends Middle Georgia State College this fall, Masters is considering majoring in business. An avid cook and baker, he dreams of one day owning a business, hopefully a restaurant, he said.

It’s another challenge for the athlete and student, who has let nothing stand in his way. And it’s an attitude that has inspired teammates, peers and teachers.

“All the excuses other people come up with, he could definitely make excuses, and he doesn’t,” Teague said. “It decreases your tolerance to listen to other people’s excuses.”

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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