HAZELWOOD: Wilhelm turned sixth-grade drawings into dream job

Mark Hazelwood • Updated Dec 4, 2017 at 10:44 PM

It’s a question that haunts us all at some point.

Growing up in Greenwich, the tiny village of 1,425 people located off U.S. Route 224 in Huron County — Taylor Wilhelm felt the burden of the question almost daily as a teenager.

What am I supposed to do with the rest of my life?

“You always hear people say to chase your passions,” said Wilhelm, a 2010 South Central graduate. “But it just seemed that growing up in Greenwich, I wasn’t exposed much to my passions and the talents I had.”

In the sixth grade, Wilhelm nervously stood in front of adults as part of a business project at a trade fair — trying to sell them on the idea of a sports drawing company as a profession.

In October, he was on the sidelines in Norman, Okla. as the Iowa State University football team upset the No. 2-ranked Sooners, who are in the College Football Playoff next month.

A former football player for the Trojans and Malone University, Wilhelm is the Director of New Media for the Cyclones’ football program.

In his second year, Wilhelm leads the program’s efforts in creating graphics and videos for social media and recruiting. He also helps produce graphics for branding and promotions of the Cyclones, who face Memphis in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 30.

While at Malone, Wilhelm began tinkering with Adobe photoshop software with some of his art work. The passion never went away, though he admitted he never wanted to be an art teacher — so his major at college was business and accounting.

But noticing he was getting positive attention on his Twitter account when posting his work of popular Ohio State football players, Wilhelm innocently posted a photo of Andrew Hawkins.

The former Cleveland Browns wide receiver was also a standout at the University of Toledo, and Wilhelm’s work was noticed by the UT coaching staff.

The next thing he knew, Wilhelm was being offered a graduate assistant position with the Rockets program as a member of the recruiting team.

Unsure of his job situation after Toledo coach Matt Campbell left for Iowa State and the greener pastures of the Big 12 Conference, Wilhelm got the surprise of a lifetime.

Not only was Campbell taking Wilhelm with him, but he created the New Media position specifically for him.

“Truly humbled,” Wilhelm said. “He didn’t know me that long, and for him to trust in me to take on that responsibility when there were plenty of people more qualified than I was who would do anything for a position like that … it was huge.”

Wilhelm married Shannon Ebert, a former standout volleyball and basketball player at Perkins, in July. The two reside in Ames, Iowa, where Wilhelm has a litany of daily duties that result in long days during the season.

On any given 12-hour work day, Wilhelm is working on graphics for recruiting, such as personalized mail items for the coaches to write something on — or a digital version.

He also handles much of the Twitter and Facebook graphics, photos and videos for the Cyclones, and gets to sit in on staff meetings on a daily basis — something not often afforded to others who hold similar positions at other big Division I programs.

All of this because Wilhelm never quite fully ignored the 12-year old version of himself in Mrs. Grose’s art class, who once showed off his scribblings of Tiger Woods and Allen Iverson on a trifold poster board.

“It’s been really neat as a kid from Greenwich to be able to experience this big-time football,” Wilhelm said. “Growing up, I never dreamed I would be able to be a part of this.

“But even through four years of college, there was never a job that stuck out to me that made me say, ‘that is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing,’” he added. “Who knew in a span of two years I would go from an accounting major to all of this?”

Even as he settles in at a dream job he never envisioned, Wilhelm finds himself now as the young adult with a teaching story to share with others.

“I encourage everyone to find out what they love to do and figure out a way to make a living off of it,” he said. “Life is so much better when you wake up on Monday mornings and can’t wait to get to work.”

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