CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WWBT) - Phil Stinnie is a name with which many VCU basketball fans are familiar. Stinnie starred for the Rams from 1984-1988 and currently sits in sixth place on the program’s all-time scoring list.
“I had a phenomenal career,” said Stinnie, who is currently the head girls basketball coach at St. Anne’s-Belfield School in Charlottesville. “Everything about my experience there warms my heart.”
Stinnie’s son, Aaron, is a blossoming star as well, but instead of the hardwood, he’s standing out on the gridiron. The younger Stinnie had basketball aspirations all the way into high school, but he was a 6′4″ forward, a size and position that don’t often mix at the division one level. Some of his high school friends talked him into playing football.
“He was an inside guy and I told him that there are no 6′4″ inside players, and he wanted to be a Division I athlete,” the elder Stinnie recalled.
It didn’t take Aaron very long to get the hang of the whole football thing. He joined James Madison as a walk-on defensive lineman, but Mickey Matthews, the head coach of the Dukes at the time, made a bold prediction.
“Mickey said that [Aaron] would be playing on Sundays at offensive line,” Phil remembered. “Mickey Matthews called it, even when he was recruiting him as a defensive lineman.”
Matthews knew what he was talking about. Stinnie went undrafted coming out of college in 2018, but caught on with the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent and made the 53-man roster. He was waived in November of 2019, but picked up by Tampa Bay shortly thereafter, where he’s been ever since. On Sunday, Stinnie will start at right guard for the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl.
“He’s missing out on that hoopla that there usually is, but I told him, I said still cherish every moment of it because this is a once in a lifetime thing,” Phil Stinnie noted.
Phil may not have played football, but he knows how to win and perform at a high level in the competitive arena. In addition to his spot on the VCU all-time scoring list, Stinnie also ranks sixth in made field goals, fourth in made free throws and fourth in defensive rebounds. Some traits are necessary and present from sport to sport, so he’s been able to give his son advice and provide an ear when necessary.
“We taught [Aaron] that you never let anybody outwork you,” he said. “Nothing is given, everything is earned, and we told him whatever you focus on, any goals you have, you attack it and you go get it.”
Aaron has done just that. A journey that began in high school in which he’s battled every step of the way has led him to the Super Bowl. His parents will be right there to see their son on the big stage.
“He hasn’t had an easy road. He’s had every excuse to quit and nobody would have judged him, because he still went further than anyone had ever thought, but to see him happen for him, it just warms our heart.”
Aaron Stinnie is one of three James Madison products with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hanover product Josh Wells is a fellow offensive lineman, while Earl Watford is a member of the Tampa Bay practice squad.
The Buccaneers battle the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday at 6:30 PM in Super Bowl LV.
Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.