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Local Sports Hero

01 June 2017 Written by  By Michelle Lassle
Published in June 2017 Articles

Anyone who knows Grant Guilliams’ story would likely tell him to move on, it’s just sports; and anyone put in his shoes would surely have given up years ago.

Not Grant. The determined Heritage High School senior has already suffered a broken back, three concussions, a torn ACL and meniscus (twice), a fractured jaw, and countless other injuries, all in the name of athletics. “People are going to get injured while playing sports; it’s just what you do,” Grant said. “I could never give up playing sports. I would miss it too much.”

Grant’s love for sports began when he was just six years old and placed on a T-ball team. Then a few years later he tried his hand at football and fell in love. As he grew up, Grant filled the role of pitcher and third baseman for his baseball teams. “I loved being able to pinpoint the ball in a certain spot and make it drop or move a certain way to hit that perfect target,” Grant said. “I loved getting hitters to think I was going one way and then going another.” He continued with his first sport until he entered high school when he stopped to focus on football. On the field, Grant was a middle linebacker and offensive guard, but regardless of the position he was in, Grant could always be found making maximum contact. “For guard, if I didn’t have a certain job to do, my job became to go into the back field and find someone to lay up,” Grant said. “I’d run and find a guy who wasn’t paying attention and take him out. That was the best.” Linebacker was the same thing; when someone was making their way through an opening, Grant would run full speed right at him.

It was that love for contact that led to Grant’s first major injury. With the message of “ball over body” drilled into his brain by his first football coach, Grant adopted that mindset and willingly sacrificed his body because that’s what the sport demanded. “My freshman year I was playing outside linebacker and went up one-on-one with an opponent when our helmets collided. That was my first big concussion. It put me out for a month and a half. I couldn’t even go to school for the first month. That one was miserable.” That hit also hairline fractured his jaw. Then on the very first day of hitting practice his sophomore year, Grant was the first player to go up one-on-one. He went in for the tackle, and before he even made contact, his knee wobbled and he fell into the player, twisting his leg. That resulted in a torn ACL and meniscus. “I was in physical therapy for 13 months trying to recover,” Grant said.

With the amount of dangerous football injuries Grant had endured, his mother suggested that he look for another sport to occupy his time. With one of his good friends already playing volleyball, Grant jumped on board and tried out for Heritage’s team his junior year. “It was the perfect time for me to join the JV team,” Grant said. “Only two people on the team were experienced, so everyone was trying to figure it out together.” Grant started as libero and then moved to defensive specialist, which means he covers for whichever back row passer needs a break. “Volleyball is such a different sport. In football, everyone is yelling at each other, and it’s more intense. In volleyball, nobody is yelling. It’s still competitive but not in your face.” However, Grant did discover that the volleyball court is not a safe haven from injuries. Since joining the team, he has torn his meniscus for a second time and gotten another concussion from being hit in the head by the ball.

When Grant isn’t busy being a beacon of positivity on the court, he is either maintaining his 3.5 GPA, pheasant hunting with his dad, or helping others. “We go up to Montana every year to pheasant hunt in the snow,” Grant said. “I’ve been going since I was 11. It’s really fun.” As far as volunteering is concerned, Grant is most proud of assisting a special needs baseball team where he was able to help teach the way of the game. The league is called Challenger Baseball, and Grant helped out for two years. “My job was to warm up the players and pitch to them,” Grant said. “Some of them would smack the ball! Those kids are the best.”

Senior year means making future plans, which Grant has already done. He will be attending California State University, Chico to major in psychology with a minor in criminal justice. As for sports at the collegiate level, Grant plans on leaving school athletics, and all of its injuries, in the past. However, suffering through all of the bodily harm did not leave Grant bitter or resentful. “All of the injuries I went through did not deter me; they just made me more motivated to keep continuing,” Grant said. “It was almost a blessing because it tested my perseverance and taught me to keep pushing. I felt like it was a way for me to push myself and find what I’m truly made of.”

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