Philip Heil, 22, grew up just outside of Nashville in Clarksville, Tennessee.
Born in Savannah, Georgia, he and his family moved to Tennessee because his father was relocated to the Fort Campbell military base.
After high school, Philip moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University. Since finishing his undergraduate degree in May of this year, he’s now pursuing his Master’s degree in sports administration.
SMALL TOWN, BIGGER DREAMS
Philip said growing up in Clarksville was fun.
“Being in a military family, we moved around a lot in Clarksville. I was fortunate enough that we didn’t have to move state to state, we just moved around a lot in the city,” he said. “I had been to five different schools before I was in the fifth grade and they were all on different ends of Clarksville.”
He said as a kid moving was tough but looking back on it, he’s glad it happened when he was younger. From fifth grade until now, his family has stayed in the same place.
“Eventually it just became something I got used to. I would spend one year at a school, and because of that it didn’t make sense to put a ton of effort into making new friends,” he said. “But not moving again after fifth grade I think was the most important time to stay stationary.”
Having moved around so much, Philip knew Clarksville like the back of his hand. He said that part was nice, but he said he always felt Clarksville was a little too small for him. From the time he and his friends were able to drive, they would make trips to Nashville almost every weekend.
“One of the big reasons I was so excited about leaving Clarksville is that I love to travel and I’ve been in that one city for way too long. I felt like I needed to move and Nashville is not super far away, but it’s far enough to where I feel independent.”
He said a lot of his friends in high school stayed in Clarksville where they wanted to work and start a family. Philip said there was nothing wrong with that but that just wasn’t for him.
“Nashville has been good to me. It’s a big city that’s perfect for college students and young professionals. It’s provided me with a lot of outlets and opportunities to learn, meet new people and experience a lot of things I wouldn’t have otherwise.”
“I think a lot of the things I’ve learned about myself and my experiences came from things that I was involved in with in undergrad.”
When Philip started his freshman year at Belmont, he was that kid that jumped into every student organization. He said he did that because he wanted to figure out what would be a good fit for him and what community he could find himself in.
Being involved in things like student government, student affairs, a fraternity, and the campus recruiting team helped him branch out and express his creativity and leadership skills.
“Joining a fraternity is something I thought I’d never do, and I probably wouldn’t have if I were at any other school, but Belmont’s Greek life is different,” he said.
For him, Greek life and the campus recruiting team were the two big things that shaped him the most because he was so heavily invested in them.
“Giving one or two tours for 20 to 30 people, most of which were students who were anxious about finding a school was a great experience,” he said.
He said it was cool to get emails and letters from parents and students who chose Belmont because of his tour. He said it was even cooler when those students started their freshman year and would find him on campus and say hey.
a NEW TRANSITION
Philip originally started his undergrad off as a pre-med student.
“I thought I wanted to go to medical school and be a surgeon, but then in my sophomore year I spent some time with a friend at Vanderbilt, and I got to watch some of his surgeries. It was awesome, but I realized it wasn’t for me,”
In his sophomore year, he switched his major to exercise science to pursue a degree in physical therapy. In the fall semester of his senior year, someone from the Predators came to talk to his class about sports administration. Before that, he had never heard of it. He reached out the Predators representative to learn more and found that it was people-based and involved networking which was right up his alley.
“So my last semester I stopped applying to PT school, freaked my parents out, and then applied to Belmont’s sports administration program and got it,” he said with a laugh. “It was a last minute transition, but it’s been completely worth it for sure.”
Still transitioning into postgrad life, Philip just finished his first semester.
“It’s been different but in the best way,” he said. With undergraduate, he was used to classes every day for a few hours, but the way his program is set up now, he only has two classes per semester two nights a week.
Philip said the scheduling is good because it allows him the opportunity to work or be at internships. He said the more he does internships and volunteer experiences, the more he wants to be in community relations, events, scheduling, travel coordinating and promoting.
“Those are the things I have the most fun with, but it’s also very broad,” he said. “I’m still deciding if I’d like to work with a particular team, at an arena or a venue and be exposed to more than just the sporting team but all the events they do.”
NASHVILLE and COMMUNITY
Philip said the change Nashville has seen over the last few years is good for the city.
“A lot is going on here. We’re becoming more than just Music City, and that’s cool to see because several years ago, it seemed like the only people who came to Nashville were those who wanted to get started as country music artists,” he said. “Now, we’re becoming known for food and not just country music but all kinds of art. It’s good to see that we’re growing out of that southern country stereotype and to be recognized for all the other things that Nashville does well.”
When Philip thinks of the word community, he thinks of his experiences at Belmont. Since his freshman year, he said the university has always put an emphasis on community and involvement on and off campus.
“Community and family can be synonymous if it’s a real community in the way that it should be.”
“In college, everyone is figuring out who they were and what they were all about,” he said. “To me, it seemed like everyone was always accepting of that change and journey for everyone else and it was very open and loving.”
Feeling the love all around, Philip said he’s felt the same for outside the university setting as well.
“The people around Nashville all seem to have the same kind of attitude that you are who you are and even if you’re still trying to figure that out hopefully we can help you do it,” he said.
Philip said being a part of a community means being involved and giving back, volunteering at different organizations, and building healthy relationships with people.
By working with these various organizations and giving his time, he hopes to leave things better than when he found it. Philip hopes to finish his Master’s degree in May of 2018.
Thanks for reading Nashville!