CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - If you plan to watch the Super Bowl Sunday, you may see a familiar face. St. Anne’s-Belfield (STAB) grad and Charlottesville native Aaron Stinnie will be in the starting lineup for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“People keep asking me if it has dawned on me that I’m going to be playing in the Super Bowl,”Stinnie said. “I tell them that it hasn’t yet, I’m gonna let that hit me after the fact.”
You might think every Super Bowl success story starts with a kid and a love for football, but Stinnie says his story is quite the opposite.
“When I was younger...I went to one practice and realized I didn’t really like football at the time,” Stinnie said. “I just stuck to basketball, that was where my heart was.”
Aaron is the son of professional basketball player Phil Stinnie, so he stayed in his comfort zone on the court until he transferred to STAB his junior year.
“It took a lot of convincing to get him in here and to come out, just because he was very much into basketball,” STAB Football Coach John Blake said.
Coach Blake has run the football program at STAB for 24 years. He eventually got Stinnie on the field. “I started playing my junior year,” Stinnie said. “At that point I started to grow a love for the game.”
“He’s a pretty intimidating looking guy, but the kids all knew him, he was a gentle guy off the field,” Blake said. “When he trapped it up on the field, he went after it so I think he earned everybody’s respect really, really quickly.”
Stinnie went on to play at James Madison University. He played in two FCS National Championships there, and won one. After going undrafted in 2018, Stinnie was an NFL back-up until becoming a starter a few weeks ago.
“One of my favorite quotes is ‘every setback is a setup for a great comeback,’” Stinnie said. “I try to live by that. Growing up I had a lot of people telling me I’d never be able to do this and not be able to do that...when people tell you things like that, just put a chip on your shoulder and use it as motivation.”
Stinnie’s job now is to protect Tom Brady.
“They needed me to be able to put my hand in the pot and help out,” Stinnie said. “That’s all I wanted to be able to do you know, it’s going to help out my team and play to my best ability.”
He’s proud to represent Charlottesville on the big stage.
“It’s awesome to be able to do that, put on for the school and put on for the city back home,” Stinnie said. “It’s an awesome feeling to be able to go and do that so I’m excited for it.”