Life is Unpredictable, Just Like Baseball; Glenwood Head Coach Tim Fanning’s Battle with Colon Cancer


The Glenwood Gators baseball program has built a dynasty. 22 state championships and eight under Head Coach Tim Fanning. He arrived at Glenwood in 1999 and took over as the head coach in 2004. The Gators won their last title in 2017, and they’ve been very close since then. After that championship, the school dedicated the field and changed the name to Tim Fanning Field at Bill Bowers Park. This year, four seniors dreamed of winning their first title, but COVID-19 won this season.

“Their last chance to win a state championship you know, and the way we were playing we really liked our chances in a three-game series,” said Fanning. “We would have had a chance and that’s all you can ask for.”

Coach Fanning learned early on during is playing days that it’s tough to win the title. As a player, his high school and college teams fell just short of the trophy.

“That’s why baseball is such a beautiful game to me because of its unpredictability, and things that you can’t control.”

On July 20, 2019, the day before he sent his oldest daughter to college, the 46-year-old face a new obstacle that was not in his plans, stage four colon cancer.

“I don’t know that you’re ever ready to hear that. People in the community, they’ve really given me the strength to really fight this.”

Fanning has given a lot of his time back to the sport and community. Between coaching high school baseball and educating young athletes in many different countries through his non-profit, “More Than a Game“, Fanning was shocked to hear the news that he had cancer.

“I just returned from an unbelievable mission trip to the Dominican and you know, really just felt like God was taking me in a different direction.”

Fast forward to March 30, 2020. Fanning underwent his toughest surgery to date. He was all alone in the hospital UAB Hospital thanks to the coronavirus restrictions, which prevented hospitals from allowing visitors. A few days later, the results were worth the wait.

“I saw the look on her face when she saw it. The surgeon. She wasn’t expecting clear margins, and they were.”

One huge positive step forward in Fanning’s recovery process, and he could not wait to share the news with his wife.

“She’d been through this just like me, so it was a day like, I won’t forget that day.”

Fanning is grateful for the Glenwood community. Their generosity and spirit is the reason he never left the school after arriving in 1999.

“Kids from 20 years ago all the way till now have wrapped their arms around me over the last ten months. It’s very humbling you know, and it lets me know exactly why I’m here. It’s not for state championships, it’s being part of something that’s way greater than myself.”

Categories: Alabama Sports, High School