To say 2017 was a big year for Glenwood baseball’s Tim Fanning would be an understatement.
In his 14th season as Gators head coach, Fanning had the team’s field named in his honor on April 13. On May 17, he was elected to the AISA Hall of Fame. Between those two achievements, Fanning’s 2017 squad just happened to capture its eighth state championship under his guidance.
Due to his team’s performance and victories in must-win situations, Fanning can add 2017 All-Bi-City 1A-3A Baseball Coach of the Year to his ever-growing list of accomplishments.
Fanning said it’s hard to put into words what the recent achievements and honors have meant to him.
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“I’m humbled and grateful to have an opportunity to serve others in the game and enjoy it,” Fanning said. “I had one of my mentors tell me, ‘Coach, when you win a bunch of stuff, it just means you’re old.’ I don’t feel old; I just feel blessed. It just has a lot to do with the people you surround yourself with. The school here has always been a wonderful place to come to work every day, and I’ve raised my daughters here.”
Glenwood entered the 2017 season as the defending state champions and boasted a roster with 13 seniors. The team started the year with a near-perfect run through the first 25 games. The Gators hit a rough patch as the the regular season drew to a close, leaving plenty of questions about the team’s postseason outlook.
Those seniors, Fanning reasons now, had a lot to do with the team’s response when things looked bleak.
For the first time in Fanning’s coaching career, the Gators dropped Game 1 in all three of their best-of-three playoff series. Despite the opening losses to Northside Methodist, Monroe Academy and Pike Liberal Arts, the Gators rallied all three times, something Fanning attributed to the team’s wealth of experience.
“There was no panic involved,” Fanning said. “You could tell they knew when to push people’s buttons in the dugout.”
That was never more evident than in the Class 3A championship series against Pike. Glenwood survived Game 2 in an ending that exactly mirrored Game 2 against Monroe -- 2-1 lead in the seventh inning, Daniel Holley pitching, two runners on -- then promptly blew the doors off the Patriots in a 10-0 victory to clinch the program’s 22nd state title.
Fanning joked after the Game 2 nailbiter that he didn’t particularly care for the tight nature of Glenwood’s games. To that point, Fanning said he was happy to see the seniors savor the moment in the 10-run win.
The seniors leave Glenwood as state champions, the third in their time as Gators. Fanning explained he’s had classes in the past with similar resumes who ultimately could not win it all their final year, making this group’s triumph something worth enjoying.
“You like your kids who have given so much to go out the right way,” Fanning said. “That’s not to say if they would have lost I would have thought any differently of them. For me, to see them be able to enjoy it means the world to me.”
Based on the program’s history, the Gators will reload rather than rebuild for 2018. Fanning said he was excited for his next team and those that follow.
“We have great coaches who train our kids right, and they grow up wanting to be Gators,” Fanning said. “They want to win a championship. We have a lot of great talent with our younger kids. Those seniors have had their time, but now it’s time for them to move on to other avenues in life. It’s time for (the younger players) to emulate who just left and try and fill their shoes.”
With Fanning at the helm, that task will certainly be easier.
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports