WARNER ROBINS -- Ben Masters might be the most modest student at Warner Robins High School.
He doesnt 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 doesnt 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.
Theres 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 doesnt 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.
Im really competitive, he said. I just like playing against other teams.
His competitive streak doesnt 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 dont mention his medical condition.
You dont even think about the fact that he uses a wheelchair, said Laura Poythress, an English teacher at Warner Robins. I dont 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.
Its another challenge for the athlete and student, who has let nothing stand in his way. And its an attitude that has inspired teammates, peers and teachers.
All the excuses other people come up with, he could definitely make excuses, and he doesnt, Teague said. It decreases your tolerance to listen to other peoples excuses.
To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.