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VIProfile: George Fant

Story by Angela Reeves

FL New York Jets offensive tackle, #76, George Fant, has called Bowling Green home since middle school. After signing what he calls a “life changing” three year contract with the Jets in April 2020, George has been able to pour back into the city that loved him so much, giving back in a meaningful way.

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, George moved to Smiths Grove in 7th grade with his dad and brother, went to Warren East Middle School and started playing basketball. He moved and attended Warren Central High School, playing basketball, and starting all four years, breaking many records, and being listed by in the top 150 players in the nation his senior year.

He grew up loving WKU basketball, following his favorite player, Ty Rogers, and knew he wanted to attend and play there. He played basketball four years at WKU (2012 – 2015), advancing to two NCAA tournaments with the team, and earning the hearts of Hilltopper fans!

Throughout college, friends on the football team and coaches talked to him about playing football but he was not interested. He was preparing to play basketball overseas when a NFL team called one of the coaches to discuss him playing football. The person calling was someone his dad knew well so they listened to him. He chose to use his fifth year of eligibility to join the WKU football team in the 2015-2016 season, as a tight end, playing in two games for 13 plays, one catch, and two tackles. “No one else with those stats would have dreamed of making it big. But I was committed to improvement and blessed to attend the Pro Day for the opportunity to get looked at,” said George.

At Pro Day, George gave it his all and impressed the Seattle Seahawks, who signed him as an undrafted free agent, playing with them from 2016 – 2019. He says honestly, no one expected him to play but through hard work at practice he made the 52 man roster. “It was difficult to give up the sport I loved and played my whole life. But financially it was a better opportunity and physically I knew I could do it, so I committed myself to it, all in, and never looked back.”

During his second year, George was injured and started thinking about what he and his family would do if his career ended. He and his wife, Chastity Gooch, former WKU Women’s basketball player, had two sons at the time, Jayden, now 5, and Jayce, now 4, and have since added to their family with their one year old daughter, Emma. They wanted something they owned, something permanent, so they bought a house back in Bowling Green where they live off season. Although he wanted to be in Seattle his whole career because they were the ones who had taken a chance on him, when he made free agent, he was picked up by New York. “I am so blessed to be here in NY, just six years after I started playing the sport. I’m proof that hard work and commitment pays off,” said George.

Chastity and George began the idea for the Fant Foundation three years ago. “Chastity has been spearheading this whole thing and I give the credit to her and her vision,” said George. The plan was to give back to the community that supported them and to provide opportunities to uplift children and for youth to excel. “We want to give what they gave us – love,” said George.

They started with a sports camp their first year, then in 2020 they had to halt plans for year two due to COVID. This year is bigger and better than they could have imagined, setting the tone for all the great work the Fant Foundation plans to do. “We plan on going full speed ahead. A lot of people need help and there are a lot of people in the community to provide it,” George said. Their long term goal is to be a full time foundation, partnering with other like-minded individuals and organizations in the community, uplifting children, providing after school programs and access to athletic support.

The 2021 George Fant Dream Big Weekend will bring in athletes and celebrities to the city to bring more life to the community and something fun for everyone to look forward to as everyone gets back to normal lives.

The Dream Big Camp will take place on June 18th and 19th at Warren Central High School. There are 470 kids ages 3rd – 12th grade registered over the two days. Football camp is on Friday and basketball camp is on Saturday. Everyone who participates will receive a free camp shirt and one ticket to the celebrity softball game. “For the younger kids, it is all about fun on the field, lots of energy and interaction with NFL players,” said George. “For the older kids, we have trainers and professional athletes to help give them advice to apply to their game and jump start their career. We want to give them something to help, something they can learn from and take with them,” he said. The camp will end with a High School/NFL Flag All-Star Game by rewarding a select group of campers who do their best and show positive qualities during the camp.

The Fant Foundation teamed up with US Bank to offer a Financial Wellness Seminar for the parents of the campers both days and anyone in the community who is wanting to come. “I give the credit to Craig Browning for his idea on this one. It’s what I’m the most excited about,” said George. George says Craig and others at US Bank have been so helpful to him over the years, navigating financial decisions and things he never understood. “They made it easy for me, and I want to help facilitate bringing the right people to give knowledge to others who need it as well,” he said.

To round out the Dream Big Weekend, the George Fant Celebrity Softball Game will be played at the Bowling Green Ballpark on Saturday, June 19th. The Fant Foundation has partnered with Boys to Men Leadership Group for a night of fun watching 30 celebrity participants at the Hot Rods Stadium. Celebrities include NBA star Courtney Lee, Miss KY Payton Blanton, NFL stars Duane Brown, Bud Dupree, Mekhi Bection, George Fant and many more. Gates open at 6 pm with musical performances added to the night.

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