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Coach Earl Grant Addresses 725 Honorees and Guests At 31st Annual HSSR All-State Winter Banquet With Outstanding Enduring Life Lesson Comments

By Billy G. Baker


Columbia—The winter sports of basketball, wrestling and SCISA bowling drew 725 honorees and their guests to the 31st annual HSSR all-state awards banquet at Seawell’s on April, 29th with College of Charleston head basketball coach Earl Grant delivering a powerful and heart-felt 22 minute keynote address.

Coach Grant, working at his fourth school (WinthropClemson, & The Citadel) in the state of South Carolina, started out stating how humble it is for him to be working as a head basketball coach in the town where he was born and raised after graduating from Stall in 1996.

Coach Grant talked about the difference in individual accomplishment versus a team accomplishment. He explained how embarrassed he was to earn “Coach of the Year” honors due to the fact it takes a lot of people, and not just himself to earn such an individual award. He said after winning the individual coaching award he wanted to help his team win a conference championship so he could witness everyone taking part in the team accomplishment.

This past March the College of Charleston won their conference championship before 11,000 fans at the North Charleston Coliseum. “This team accomplishment involved everyone in our program helping to cut down the nets from my secretary to our non-paid student managers, so the team win was a more powerful moment,” said Coach Grant. “Before the championship game, earlier in the day, I went on a three mile jog through the very neighborhood I was raised in, and it was a very humbling experience for me.”

Coach Grant talked about growing up in a two bedroom home in North Charleston and how his father was a no-nonsense “make something of yourself through hard work” type of person. Coach Grant said the first morning after he returned home after graduation he slept in until 11:30 a.m. and his father got into his ear pretty quick. He told Coach Grant he had to be up and out looking for a job by 8:30 the next morning.

Grant, a psychology major, landed a job as a security guard at a local motel working from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. in the morning and then he moved up to a maintance job at a competing motel by the end of the summer where he said he unplugged toilets among other things. “I have my security uniform on and I am working in the neighborhood I grew up in so all my buddies are driving by looking at me and making fun of me being a college graduate, and now I am working as a security guard,” said Coach Grant.

By the end of first summer out of college Grant had saved $3,000 which allowed him to buy a new car and gave him reliable transportation to work weekend summer camps all over the region. His last camp (Dixie camp) was in Summit, Mississippi ran by Coach Sellers from LSU. This camp had been a 14 hour drive from Charleston. “On the way back home from working this last basketball camp I had convinced myself that I was going to join the Air Force and get out of North Charleston,” said Coach Grant. “When I got home my Dad said Coach Sellers had called and wanted to talk to me. Coach Sellers offered me a graduate assistant coaching job which I jumped on and I spent two years with him while I was working on my Master’s.

 Coach Grant said this situation highlighted the importance of how you conduct yourself in the public eye. “How you treat people, how you carry yourself and even your manners are important and you get noticed by others even when you don’t think they are looking at you,” said Coach Grant. “Do you have your shirt tail tucked in or are you wearing rings in your ear today? People are always looking at you forming their impressions of you.  You need to make good decisions and look people in the eye when you talk to them. Try to not make bad decisions that could destroy who you are as a person.

“It was unbelievable that Coach Sellers called me back and I went back and worked with him for two years. That right there was my first lesson on how you can get noticed just by treating people right and being a hard worker.”

Coach Grant talked about a good attitude and how a good outlook on life is critical to future success, particularly to teenage athletes. “Number two you have to have a strong work ethic. I have three sons and my 11 year old is in to video games and social media but we are paying someone to cut our grass because I am busy. I told my wife we might have made a mistake hiring someone to cut the grass and that our 11 year old needs to get in the yard and start helping out.

“The bottom line is that we have to work for what we want,” said Coach Grant. “There are no hand-outs in this life. You got to get up and give good effort everyday whether it is in the classroom or at your job. I tell my players everyday to fight for their GPA. I tell them to always be willing to give extra effort, to get away from their friends and go to library and study extra hard.”

    Coach Grant said having Faith is the third key component we all need in our lives.  “You must believe in yourself because you are going to have certain people tell you that you can’t do something,” said Coach Grant. “You can do all things but you have to believe in yourself first.  There will be failures, setbacks and letdowns in life. People may tell you to give in and give out on a certain goal, and they might try you to something different but if you have faith you can accomplish your goals.

“At 17 or 18 years old figure out what you want to do in your life and nobody can make you waiver,” said Coach Grant. “You have to believe in your plan and you have to pray about it and with a good work ethic your plan can come together.”

Near the end of his talk Coach Grant referred to Jesus Christ in making a very strong point. It was in the middle of this season for the Cougars and after having a good stretch run they lost a couple games in a row. “Some of our guys started doubting themselves and even their roles on the team so I told them a story about Jesus,” said Coach Grant. “I told my team how everyone started following Jesus because he was doing a lot of miraculous things like healing blind people so they could see, or healing the very sick back to perfect health.

“There was like 5,000 people in a field that started following Jesus for 10 to 15 days  and this large group of people were getting hungry and they needed water and food,” said Coach Grant. “Jesus looked over to one of his disciples and asked what they were going to do to help so many hungry people. One of his disciples said it was going to take a month to gather up enough food to feed such a crowd of people.

“Another disciple told Jesus that he knew a person among the crowd that had two fish and five loaves of bread and upon hearing that Jesus said that was enough to feed everyone,” said Coach Grant. “So told my team that we had enough to reach our goals for the season also. I told them that we were going to have to stretch our talent, to be content whether we had a little or a lot, and that if we all stretched what we had to give to the team that things could work out for us and that we could win a championship. I told them that if Jesus found a way to feed 5,000 people with the little bit of food he had that we could find a way to accomplish our goals for the season as well.

“A player asked me how do we stretch it, Coach? “You stretch it by having a better attitude, you stretch it with extra effort, and you stretch it by every member of this team doing their best when I ask you to do something or fulfill a certain role. You have to be mentally tough and it is amazing what a team can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit.  

“So we are down 17 points in the second half of the championship game in front of 11,000 fans and I looked at one of our players and told him that we enough to turn the game around and we came back to win the game,” said Grant. “We stretched within the entire team to reach our goals.”

In summation, Coach Grant says to be true and strong to your goals, work hard, have Faith, and never waiver to anyone standing in your way. And now we know why Earl Grant has found success coaching basketball and we thank him for spending some time with us at the 2017-18 HSSR Winter banquet.

No doubt he will one day move up to head coach a team in the ACC or SEC. His message is grounded in all the right core principals of life. His message was a breath of fresh air to all in the room!


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