Interview: Coach Grant

I spoke with Activities Director Mike Grant about Division 1 Athletes that come from EPHS and the qualities that make them.

Max Chao: EPHS is known for its athletic success. What do you think it is about this school that pushes student athletes to achieve so high? 

Mike Grant: Well, I think that it starts in the community, long before students get into the high school. We have really good youth sports and parents who are able to make sacrifices so that their kids can go to camps or clinics and do the training that is necessary to get there. Once they get to the high school, there are outstanding coaches for all the sports that can develop kids at that level and then the kids get to play on a big stage. A lot of people say ‘oh, I’d rather go to a small school or we should be a smaller school, but we play on the biggest stage of any high school athletics. I’m not saying that’s better or worse than playing in a smaller league, but our kids are known, and play in big events. Other schools know who they are, and that is a big advantage.

MC: When a student that you’ve either coached, or another EPHS student in general who is going to play sports at a high level in college, how do you feel being the activities director or the coach of that student?

MG: Honestly, I am more interested in producing great young men and women than I am in Division 1 scholarship athletes. When the people come back who are playing Division 1, we don’t necessarily talk about the teams that they’re playing on but how they’re doing as a person and we find that there’s a correlation between being an outstanding person and being a Division 1 athlete. It’s hard to be someone who’s a knucklehead, not doing the right things, and not being a great person and also be able to achieve that because now in Division 1 athletics when they give you a scholarship, they do a lot of research on you and they find out what kind of a person you are. When a college coach calls me, the first thing they ask is are they solid academically, are they qualified, and will they do the work. Secondly, they ask what kind of person are they. Third thing they talk about athletic ability. They’ll hear about them athletically but they want to know how they are as a person, especially in this day and age when they offer them a scholarship that might be worth $300,000 over the time they’re there. I’m most proud of our athletes as people and how they represent our school off the field than off the field.

MC: So you are more proud of the characteristics that playing sports at a high level builds in a person than perhaps just the Division 1 Status?

MG: I’m more interested in what kind of people they are. When you go Division 1, there’s no guarantee that you’re gonna play a moment, but I’m proud of when they go to college and their coaches say ‘what a great young woman’ or ‘what a great young man’ and their proud having them at their university. That is the proudest part for me, not their success at Division 1.

MC: For any younger underclassmen or younger students who want to get to that level athletically, or maybe personally with those characteristics you talked about, what advice could you give them? 

MG: Character matters. Work ethic is extremely important, it really is a competition for those scholarships. Now, they check Facebook, they ask all around, and they get all opinions about a person before they offer a D1 scholarship, they want to know all about the person. Having said that, Eden Prairie, I think, has great kids. What you’ll hear amongst coaches is that Eden Prairie is a great academic school, if athletes come out of this school and have good grades, they are going to do really well in college. They also know what kind of kids we have here character-wise. Predominantly, we really have great kids, so colleges are really confident in recruiting Eden Prairie kids. I get some calls from NFL players who ask about character. So, character matters, work ethic is important, you need to become a student of the game. Obviously you need to have talent, but there are a lot of talented people who don’t make it, who never go on to Division 1. There are also lots of kids who don’t have as much talent who go on to play at Division 1 and get offered because of their character.

MC: Is there anything else that you want to say about any of the topics that you talked about?

MG: For a kid to come out of Eden Prairie with that Division 1 offer is really a combination of so many things. It is the student’s talent and work ethic, it’s the support of their family or whoever it might be who supported them and helped them develop, it’s the coaches, and then it’s community. Our community has voted to build good facilities. Our kids have had great facilities to train in as well, so its really a combination of a lot of different people. The other thing is that I am just as proud of the kid who goes to play at Mankato, St. Thomas, or Gustavus and represents our school. We have so many more kids that go to Division 3 and Division 2. We’re just as proud of those kids as we are of the Division 1 kids.