Selma’s Man of Steele

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Times-Journal Writer

On the football field he leads one of the most formidable defenses around, ready to halt in his tracks any opposing running back hoping to make it to the end zone.

Off the field, Steele is more apt to help a person to their feet than knock someone off them.

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Steele is in his senior year as a Selma High School linebacker. But in a position mainly known for its need of physicality and strength stands a young man with a heart for helping people.

“I’m an active person,” said the modest Steele. “I just like to be involved in a lot of stuff. That’s just in me.”

These days, a young person involved with many different activities can provoke the most frightening circumstances. Gangs, drugs and crime are always a reminder of the street life many youngsters face today.

But Steele has a different agenda.

Rather than running the streets, Steele helps to try and keep them spotless as a member of the Sweep Selma Clean program. Instead of becoming a member of a violent gang, Steele works as a Big Brother to help keep younger kids out of gangs. He also is a member of the Selma Fire Department. In the summer, he works as an umpire for the Selma Parks and Recreation Department’s Dixie Youth Baseball program.

Steele said he does all these things because of his position on the football field and in the community.

“I consider myself a leader,” he said. “If I can make an impact in someone’s life by helping them, that makes me feel good.”

In the past, Steele also has done volunteer work 35 hours a week during the summer, mowing grass for the Selma Cemetery Department. From June through July, he assisted his mother, working as a volunteer in the Vundt Regional Medical Center administration and public relations department. There, Steele helped file and research health care information for his mother, who helps the staff understand how to better advertise the center.

Helping people the way he does may bring forth respect from his community, but Steele said it’s all about how he feels inside.

“It’s more about self-respect for me,” Steele said. “It doesn’t hurt to go out of your way to help someone. If everyone helped someone else, then Selma would be a much better city.”

But where does someone so busy find the time to do all this? Steele said he has learned to prioritize his life from Selma High alums Ben Obomanu and Jay Miller.

“They’ve taught me the ropes, to keep my priorities straight,” he said. “They both tell me to keep working hard and that it will pay off in the end. Hard work always pays off in the end.”

Along with his parents, Steele said Selma High football coach Woodrow Lowe Jr., basketball coach Anthony Harris and track coach Foster Davis also have played a key part in his life.

“They don’t just teach a game,” he said. “They teach the fundamentals of life. They’ve taught me to keep my class and self-respect, no matter what the situation. They’ve taught me to take it like a man.”

It appears the only thing Steele is ready to take is his life to another level.

Along with his busy football schedule, Steele currently is taking courses as Wallace Community College Selma along with his high school classes. When he graduates from high school this year, Steele said he wants to major in public relations or mass communications. From there, he wants to attend law school and open his own law firm.

“There are always obstacles you have to overcome,” Steele said. “I’ve always been taught to work hard, help other people and go the extra mile.”