Tough life decisions pay off for Grant Webermin

Spirit defenseman Grant Webermin, of Novi, is making a name for himself on the Saginaw blue line. (OHL Images)

By Carl Chimenti –

Career altering decisions can be tough. In the case of a teenager it can be excruciating.

Saginaw Spirit defenseman Grant Webermin, who was recently acquired at the OHL trade deadline from the Windsor Spitfires, faced three tough choices that could make or break his aspirations in becoming a professional hockey player. The well-spoken and mature youngster, who just turned 18 in February, had the support of his parents as he came to grips with the choices that he needed to make over the last two years.

The first tough call came at the age of 16, when Webermin decided to attend Novi Catholic Central, arguably the best prep hockey program in the state. At the time, the Novi resident was a long-time product with the Honeybaked hockey program and head coach Todd Gardiner. The defenseman decided to stay to continue with Honeybaked instead of earning his varsity letter.

“Playing for Honeybaked is probably the most memorable hockey experience that I have ever had,” Webermin said. “To this day I maintain a strong friendship with the guys and their families, which is very important to me.”

Webermin says he owes a lot of his success to Gardiner and the Honeybaked organization.

“I was with Ted for about eight years, six of them with Honeybaked,” Webermin said. “I learned so much from him, and certainly I owe a lot to him for all his help and guidance…I still stay in contact with him as much as I can.”

And while he never dressed for the Shamrocks hockey team, he appreciates the education he received at Catholic Central.

“I received an excellent education and I learned a lot about myself spiritually,” Webermin said. “From a hockey career standpoint, staying with Honeybaked was the best thing for me.”

Webermin’s next life-changing decision came during the summer of 2012 and the OHL Priority Draft. The Windsor Spitfires drafted Webermin in the first round, 20th overall, forcing him to choose between his college eligibility and the OHL.

“After I was drafted I really struggled with this decision for a long time,” Webermin said. “I had it narrowed down to the University of Michigan, a team that I grew up watching, or the Spitfires. The biggest deciding factor in choosing the OHL route was the two-year gap. Also, I thought going directly to the OHL and the Windsor Spitfires, which was close to home, was a good opportunity and the right way to go.”

Webermin played for Honeybaked before making the jump to the next level. (OHL Images)

Webermin spent a year and a half with the Spitfires, but due to a concussion and a slight ankle tear, he appeared in only 87 games, scoring a total of three goals and ten points.

Life decision No. 3 came just minutes before the trade deadline expired, when Spitfires vice president and general manager Warren Rychel asked Webermin if he would approve a trade to Saginaw.

“Rychel called me at 11:40 a.m., on the day of the deadline and I had exactly 20 minutes to decide,” Webermin said. “I called my parents and my agent, but in the end it came down to my decision, as to what was best for me as I move forward towards a pro career.”

Webermin was unaware of any potential trades before he received the phone call.

“I was completely shocked when Rychel called me,” said Webermin, who will be eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft in June. “I thought I would be part of the 1994 birth-year class with the Spitfires, looking to make a run for the 2014 Memorial Cup.”

However, the trade has benefitted the Novi native. Since joining the Spirit, Webermin has seen his ice time increase and the trade has given him a fresh start. Spirit GM Jim Paliafito feels the young defenseman will be a good fit with the team.

“His upside made perfect sense to us,” said Paliafito following the trade. “He adds another young talent on our back-end that will help us as we move forward.”

At 6-foot-1-inch and 175 pounds, Webermin likes to excel at both ends of the ice.

“I try to be a complete D-man using both my skating and puck skills to move the puck up quickly to the rushing forwards,” Webermin said. “I like to play hard in front of the net and in the corners, taking care of my own end.”