Chelsea assistant football coach is named to the Hall of Fame

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Coach Grant Fanning. photo courtesy of Chelsea Athletics

Another big moment for the Chelsea football program happened recently with the announcement that varsity assistant coach Grant Fanning will be inducted into to the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame this year.

The Sun Times News (STN) reached out to Fanning after hearing about the good news from Chelsea Athletics.

“I'm completely humbled by this honor,” said Fanning. “I feel really thankful to have been a part of Chelsea football for all these years. I've loved every minute of it!”

He’s coached in Chelsea for 25 years and has been the defensive coordinator for 24 years of those.

STN asked Chelsea Athletic Director and High School Assistant Principal Brad Bush about Fanning being named to the hall of fame.

“We are all very excited for Grant,” Bush said. “This is a very deserving award. He has been our lead assistant and defensive coordinator for 25 years. This is a very deserving honor. He has been a driving force in the success of our football program over that time. He is respected by staff and students.”

Bush said Fanning has totally run that side of the ball during his time here.

“He has not only coordinated the defense, but organized and led our defensive coaches and been a mentor to athletes and young coaches,” said Bush.

Chelsea Varsity Football Head Coach Josh Lucas had a similar take as well.

“His passion and energy and really love of the game is the reason Chelsea Football has been so good for so many years now,” Lucas said of Fanning. “He doesn't teach in our district so for him he truly believes in our kids and believes in our program because he could be a head coach anywhere he wanted to be. Being a young coach I have leaned on Grant many times over the years and I will continue to do so going forward. Our entire staff is so happy for him and having him be inducted into the Hall of Fame is an unbelievable accomplishment for him and his family.”

Fanning is a Saline High School graduate, class of 1987. He went on to become a teacher in Saline schools and has been there for 30 years. He is an eighth-grade Science Teacher.

After high school he went to Hillsdale College and played football and lettered there for four years. He said he played for a great coach in Dick Lowry and Defensive Coordinator Dave Dye. He learned a lot from them.

“I was really lucky to have gone there and play for those great men,” Fanning said. “Many great lessons!”

In looking back at his career so far and who has helped him along the way, Fanning said there are some important people he wants to thank.

“I want to thank Wayne Welton for taking a chance on me in 1997,” he said. “I didn't have a lot of experience as a coach. I had played in college on defense, but as far as running a defense I had not done it that much. He gave me a chance no one would have.”

Also, he wants to thank Bush and Lucas.

Of Bush, he said, “He also took a chance on me. He was a first year head coach and he hired me to run the defense. We didn't know each other that well, but as I learned Brad was an outstanding coach. We had similar views on what a program could look like, how to coach, and how to treat players. He made me want to be better! He's as good a coach as I have ever been around.”

And for Lucas, he said, “He also gave me a chance. He didn't know me at all, but let me run the defense when he was hired. Josh is an excellent coach who has similar football program values that I have. He's an excellent young coach. Our players have taken on his personality. We are never out of a game. He is also one of the best play callers I have seen. He always has our guys ready to play.”

Fanning’s two biggest fans are his wife, Andrea and their daughter Sophia, 11.

“They are so supportive of me coaching football. I couldn't coach without them,” he said. “I'm really lucky!”

Knowing the commitment and dedication one has to make in order to be selected for the Hall of Fame, STN asked Fanning what he loves about coaching?

“I love coaching football,” he answered. “I enjoy working with players and seeing them grow as people and players. It's very gratifying to see the growth that takes place each year. I'm really proud of our program and how players are developed. Our goal is to get a lot of players ready to play so they will be able to play on Friday's. We win with depth. I like how we build depth on special teams, offense, and defense.”

Another part he loves is the game week prep.

“I like trying to figure out what we need to prepare for on defense,” he said. “We have a great defensive staff and work together to come up with the best plan possible.”

The hall of fame induction ceremony will be on June 24, in Southfield.

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