A Voice Away From Home
Chaplain Steve Grant builds lasting relationships with Red Raiders
March 12, 2012
by Alexandra Ellis
The motivational poster above a computer in his office has a picture of a basketball hoop in an old gymnasium.
The words below the image say "Opportunity: You'll always miss 100 percent of the shots you don't try."
Texas Tech football team chaplain Steve Grant believes in that statement, as it was one final opportunity that turned his life around.
After quitting his high school football team four times, Grant acknowledged the err in his ways, and approached his coach to let him back on the team.
"I went to him, and he said `Why should I let you back on the team? All you're going to do is quit again,'" Grant said. "He gave me one more chance to get on the team, and the fact that he saw something in me that warranted another chance...
"I see all the good in all the kids, and I know their potential is sometimes greater than what they do."
Always with the team, in Lubbock or on the road, Grant is available as an un-biased voice away from home.
"My main responsibility is to counsel the athletes, be accessible and available to meet their every need outside the football field," Grant, a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, explained.
The third-year chaplain was close to not ending up in Lubbock back in 2010. He was a busy man, traveling with Sports World Ministries, a non-profit organization that sends retired professional athletes around the country to share their personal experiences.
"We were on the speaking circuit, and I was in Modesto, Calif.," Grant remembered. "I got a phone call that said my name was on the shortlist, but I couldn't make it.
"Texas Tech called me a second time and said `Hey, can you come this week?' I said, `Man, I'm going to be speaking in another part of California.' "
Grant thought the interaction was over, but he was wrong. The coach who was the liaison contacted him a final time and gave Grant a specific two-hour window of time on a specific date. That was all it took.
"It just so happened I had that window open, I flew in, and they called me about four hours later, and I'm here."
The team is thankful for that.
The Red Raiders look up to Grant as a respected, trustworthy source of confidence and guidance in the busy, hectic world of Division I college athletics.
One of the players Grant has impacted is junior quarterback Seth Doege.
"He's been a great asset to our football team," Doege said. "Sometimes, the things you want to talk about, you can't really talk about to the coaches, or you're afraid to talk about it to someone that might judge you. Chaplain Grant is really good to go talk to and express what you're going through. He's there."
Redshirt sophomore linebacker Terrance Bullitt appreciates Grant as well. "Chaplain Grant has a real big impact on me," Bullitt said. "Any time I have personal problems, anything I need to talk about, that's the guy I go to. It's good to talk to someone that's not a coach, but he knows a lot, he was a linebacker, too. So he's just a really good person to talk to and a friend."
Grant said the favorite part of his job is building the relationships with the young men who spend a lot of their time in the football facility. But the relationships don't always come easy.
"Trust is very important with athletes," Grant said.
And there's another building block - time.
"Spending time with them on the practice field, time in the training room, time in the film room, when we travel in the plane," Grant said. "The only way you can develop the trust of athletes is spending time with them."
Grant has truly been there.
He spent four years as a linebacker at one of the soon-to-be-newest members of the Big 12 Conference, West Virginia. Grant is considered one of the greatest linebackers in his alma mater's history - totaling 445 tackles in his career, a statistic that currently ranks fourth all-time at West Virginia.
It was at West Virginia that Grant first began thinking about becoming a chaplain.
"I never had aspirations of being a chaplain, but we had this one guy by the name of David Keyzar with Campus Crusaders for Christ," Grant said. "He took time to see me as a person. He didn't judge me by the life that I was living. There was a transition one day in my heart and that's when I realized `Hey I could do this for a living.'"
But his football career after West Virginia was far from over.
Drafted in the 10th round by the Indianapolis Colts in 1992, Grant spent two seasons working his way into the starting lineup. In 1994, he was tabbed the Colts' Hard Nose Player of the Year, and started every game in the 1995 season.
Grant remembers his NFL playing career fondly.
"My favorite playing career memory as a Colt would have to be the 1995-96 AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers," Grant recalled. "That was the best NFL game I've ever played, but yet we lost in the last seconds.
"It taught me a life principle that if you work hard, the goals that you set and that you try to obtain become a reality. You saw the hard work and you saw it paying off."
After six successful seasons in Indianapolis, Grant joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1997. Overall he played in 83 games with 47 starts, totaling 233 tackles, three sacks, one interception, and six fumble recoveries.
One of the aspects Grant adopted into his repertoire came from one of the most legendary coaches in NFL history, Tony Dungy. Dungy taught Grant the importance of community and giving back.
"It was a requirement that if you were on his team, you had to give back to the community," Grant said. "It is a privilege, not a right, to be a Texas Tech Red Raider. And with that privilege comes the responsibility to give back to the community who supports what you're able to do."
Texas Tech athletes are involved in several community projects including the Ronald McDonald House, Salvation Army, Homes for Heroes and High Point Village. Everywhere you look, there is more than likely a Red Raider helping out in some form or fashion.
"That's one of our goals -- it's one of coach Tuberville's visions, is to get the athletes in the community," Grant said. "Make them a visible presence."
The Texas Tech head football coach is on the same page as his chaplain, and is grateful for the impact Grant has on his team.
"Steve is a big part of what we do," Tommy Tuberville said. "Coaching is about life skills, too, and teaching guys how to handle themselves off the field as well as on the field. He's built a great relationship with every player, and it's important that you have a guy that they can go to and visit with about things other than blocking and tackling. He's just like a big brother."