Western Michigan Christian names Justin Canan its new boys basketball coach

By Seth Vanderwest

NORTON SHORES–Western Michigan Christian has filled its boys basketball coach vacancy with Justin Canan, a former assistant and freshman coach.

The hiring was officially announced recently. Canan will be replacing Kurt Gruppen, who stepped down as both Western Michigan Christian’s basketball coach and athletic director in order to spend more time with his family.

Canan, a 2001 graduate of Calvin Christian High School, has spent time coaching at several schools in the area, though this will be his first varsity head coaching job. He put in 5 years coaching eighth grade boys basketball at Grandville, then headed back to his alma mater to be an assistant coach for the varsity football team.

His next stop was Grand Haven, where he coached JV boys basketball and assisted with the varsity. From there, he moved to Western Michigan Christian, where he has been since.

Canan steps into a job at the school where he has plenty of familiarity with the student-athletes and the program.

Being part of the program already, along with the tradition and winning culture of WMC made it an easy decision to apply,” Canan said. “I have two children at Grand Haven Christian who will attend WMC, and being a Calvin grad coaching at WMC, allows me an opportunity to develop and lead young Christian athletes.”

Canan lives with his wife Lindsay and two kids, Reese and James, in Norton Shores. He works for Platinum Educational Group and is a part-time firefighter, first responder, and police officer with Grand Haven Public Safety.

Canan knows he has work to do after losing two key performers in 1,000-point scorer Owen Varnado and Sam Liggett.

[Owen and Sam] will leave a void but we will be relying on strong numbers from underclassmen to fill in the pieces,” Canan said.

Canan emphasizes the importance of hard work, both in the offseason and in-game during the season.

[During the summer]we will be putting in intense work on both sides of the court starting with some time to learn and work on offensive and defensive changes we will implement as well as expectations set forth,” he said.You can expect our teams will play with intense energy and effort, exhibiting a positive attitude while hard work and grit proves itself on the court.”

Canan will look to improve on WMC’s 7-14 finish last year. The Warriors tied for second in the Lakes 8 and bowed out in the first round of the playoffs with a loss to North Muskegon.

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