Football family: Grandfather trains grandson for the gridiron

The daily workouts are also a chance for valuable life lessons

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – For many children and teens, summer vacation is a chance to sleep in, play video games, or take a break from a routine.

But a Lee County 11-year-old has been spending his summer break at the gym, hitting the weights as he prepares for football season, under the watchful eyes of his granddad.

Every morning, six days a week, Defern Stephen and his grandson Kylan Stephen are at Tupelo’s Premiere Athletix, getting those reps in.

“He came to me and said, granddaddy, I’m ready to play football this year,” Defern Stephen said.

Defern Stephen played football at Okolona, then for ICC and semi-pro in Jackson. He also played arena football with the Tupelo Fire Ants.

He believes Kylan Stephen would make a strong defensive tackle, so he’s training him and teaching him proper technique.

“His arms, his chest, I want him to have strength in those situations, his legs, if you are going to play football you have to strength in your legs for sure, and the things I show him in the weight room you can use for sure, as far as pushing off, and driving, those things I’m showing him to have ability to do on the football field,” Defern Stephen said.

Kylan Stephen said the workouts are challenging but necessary to excel.

“It’s important because I’m trying to get better, better than myself when I was younger and stronger,” Kylan Stephen said.

Chris Beckish is the owner of Premiere Athletix and said it’s inspiring to see Defern Stephen coaching his grandson.

“A lot of kids are at home, sleeping, playing video games, but to see this and have this done on a regular basis, is nice to see,  it doesn’t happen a lot, it’s really special to see,” Beckish said.

Defern Stephen also told his grandson the importance of working just as hard in the classroom and giving 100% all the time.

“If you are going to play ball, you need to have grades to play ball, you can go so far with ball playing but if you don’t have the education to carry you further than college, you will never make it.  Whatever you want to do, you can do it if you put your whole heart into it and put God first in anything you do,” Defern Stephen said.

Kylan Stephen said he’s willing to do whatever it takes to excel in football, outworking everyone else and he knows his granddad will be there, cheering him on and pushing him hard, every step of the way.

Kylan Stephen will play for the Okolona Indians pee wee league this fall. When asked which pro team he would like to play for, he said the Dallas Cowboys.

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