FEATURED ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Thomas Fanning, South Putnam
Thomas Fanning is a senior at South Putnam and participates in tennis, basketball and golf.
Banner Graphic: What do you like best about playing sports, and what have you learned from them?
Thomas Fanning: “I have learned a lot here at South, especially from all the different coaches. They have all helped me with everything I have accomplished. Coach [Johnny] Briones in tennis and coach [Greg] Dean in basketball and golf have both helped me a lot. That’s what I love about high school the best — the sports. In tennis, I have learned to be more kind and respectful of opponents. It’s just me and him. You make friends with him at the beginning and it’s a respect thing. I’m friends with a lot of people I’ve played against in every sport, and that’s important.”
BG: Winning the tennis sectional title last year would have to be one of your top highlights. What was that like?
TF: “It was an incredible experience. I just loved it. It was fun, since we were the only South team to ever win a tennis sectional. That was really cool for us. We didn’t even really think about it until halfway through the season. We didn’t think we had a shot at it until the end of the year. I told the guys we needed to ‘get on the horse’ and go get it.”
BG: How long have you been playing tennis?
TF: “I started in the summer of my eighth-grade year. My grandma actually got me to start playing, and I owe her a lot for teaching me the right skills. She’s always been a tennis phenomenon, and she pushed me once I got older. That made her happy. She comes to every one of my matches, and helps me during the matches.”
BG: How long have you been playing basketball?
TF: “I’ve been playing since third grade. South has always had a league, and we’ve been playing together in the summer. My team and I have played with each other for a long time. We know each other and are best friends with each other. Neil Watson and my dad [Bob] have coached us. This is our last go-around, and we’ve been talking about it. I think this will be our best year since we all realize it’s our last chance to win a sectional. We’ve been playing and working hard at it. Allen [Plunkett] has an indoor court at his house, and my buddies and I go there and play a lot.”
BG: Golf is more of a recent hobby, isn’t it?
TF: “I didn’t take it too seriously my sophomore year, but last year at the end of the season I realized I was starting to enjoy it. My grandpa and my dad go out and play with me, and it’s fun. It’s hard.”
BG: What other things do you do at school besides sports?
TF: “I am the student body president, and I really enjoy that. I am on the yearbook staff, and I like to go to a lot of games for our other teams and cheer them on. I love the cheer block. I just love talking to kids and teachers.”
BG: You seem to wear your hair longer in tennis season than during the winter. Do you wish you could keep it longer?
TF: “I’m going to try to make up a slide show and get coach Dean to let me keep it long for one game. Maybe I’ll have a really good game and he’ll let me keep it.”
BG: Do you have a favorite class or teacher that has helped you?
TF: “Coach Dean has helped me a lot with my resume, and Mrs. [Bethany] LeBlanc helps me a lot too. All of the teachers are great, and don’t get enough credit for it. I just want to thank them all for that.”
BG: What are your plans for after high school?
TF: “I am not sure. I need to get working on that. I know I want to go to college and major in business. I’d like to own my own business someday. I might try to play tennis; I’m not sure about that. That would be fun.”
BG: What other things do you do that are not school-related?
TF: “I like to go to the pickleball courts. My dad and I are into that. Me, Lane [Watson] and Allen like to hang out and go to Plainfield, and things like that. My girlfriend [Greencastle’s Seelye Stoffregen] like to do a bunch of fun things. I play a lot of Fortnite. It’s the best game ever.”
BG: What are your favorites in music, movies and TV?
TF: “My favorite album right now is ‘Astro World’ by Travis Scott. That was cool. My favorite kind of movies are comedies. I don’t really watch TV; we don’t even have cable at our house. It’s all Netflix.”
BG: What is something you have never done before that you would like to do someday?
TF: “Skydiving. I would love to do that someday. It looks super fun. Seelye went to Oregon, and was taking some cool pictures. The mountains and sand dunes looked really cool.”
BG: What is your greatest fear?
TF: “Spiders and snakes. I can’t do them. I’ve never been bitten, but I stay away from them.”
BG: Summarize your overall South Putnam experience.
TF: “It’s actually not gone as fast as some people say. I like it. I’ll miss it, I know that for a fact. It’s been a great experience here.”
BG: Do you have desires to come back around here after college?
TF: “I’ll probably stay somewhere close around here.”