Wiedmer: Farewell fete fitting for Fanning

Posted: June 14, 2012 at 3:26 am

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As she had for as many Mays as she could remember, Sharon Fanning-Otis headed to Marco Island, Fla., last month for a week's vacation.

However, there was one very important difference for the Scenic City native who's spent the better part of the last four decades of her life coaching women's basketball at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Kentucky and Mississippi State.

"For the first time in 37 years I didn't bring along a day planner," said Fanning-Otis, who retired as the MSU coach earlier this spring after 17 seasons, then swiftly joined the school's Bulldog Club as a fundraiser.

Not that she thinks her life now needs no advance planning.

"I won't be getting up at 4:30 in the morning in October anymore for early practices, but I've worked hard all my life and this is going to be another tough challenge, especially the first year," she said. "But I'll be 60 next year, and this seemed like a good time for a change."

Longtime friends Wanda Albritton and Roz Crownover figure it's a good time to honor Fanning-Otis, who grew up as Sharon Cable, starring in every sport she played at City High School.

So this Sunday afternoon -- Father's Day -- they're hosting a reception in her honor at 1 p.m. at the Chickamauga Fly Bait and Casting Club in Soddy-Daisy.

"I know it's Father's Day," the guest of honor said. "But there were always a lot of dads at our games to watch their daughters, so maybe they'll come to this, too."

Anyone coming to the reception will have a chance to salute the woman who just might be the best female athlete in our city's history -- a marvelous basketball, volleyball and softball player who unfortunately came along too early to benefit from Title IX until she began to coach.

"I loved every sport. I loved competing," Fanning-Otis said Monday from her Starkville office. "In fact, if there had been more opportunities in softball back then, I'm not sure I wouldn't have thought about coaching softball. I played it for 20 years and I loved it."

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Wiedmer: Farewell fete fitting for Fanning

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June 14th, 2012 at 3:26 am

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