Grantsville High School inducted three new members into its Hall of Fame during halftime of Friday night’s boys basketball game, recognizing Jeff Hamm, Christine Cole Johnson and Merrill Nelson.
Hamm is a 1983 Grantsville High graduate. While he was a student at GHS, he earned varsity letters in football, basketball, baseball and tennis for the Cowboys. After graduation, he began a lengthy coaching career, coaching numerous youth sports while working on his bachelor’s degree at the University of Utah, which he completed in 1988. In 1992, Hamm earned a second bachelor’s degree from Southern Utah University.
Hamm was named the head boys basketball coach and athletic director at Parowan High School after graduating from SUU. He returned to his native Grantsville in 1995 after being hired as the Cowboys’ head boys basketball coach, eventually leading GHS to the 1998 Class 2A state championship with a 24-1 overall record. Since stepping down as coach in 1999, he has served two stints as Grantsville Elementary School’s principal as well as three years as director of elementary education for the Tooele County School District. He was named principal at Tooele High in 2015.
Johnson, a 1982 GHS graduate, was the ninth female in the country to win four career high school singles championships on the tennis court, doing so while not losing a single match in tournament along the way. When she was named Prep of the Week by the Deseret News on Oct. 15, 1980, she was the first female so honored. She was also named Prep of the Week on two separate occasions by the Transcript Bulletin, citing outstanding performance and a “never-say-die attitude.”
Nelson, who currently represents Grantsville and surrounding areas in the Utah State Legislature, graduated from GHS in 1973 — which he refers to as “the best class ever.” A multi-sport athlete, Nelson starred for the Cowboys in football, basketball and baseball. He also won the state Veterans of Foreign Wars speech competition, earning him the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., in order to meet then-President Richard Nixon. He earned a Congressional commendation and his speech was printed in the Congressional Record.
Nelson went on to graduate from Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, later becoming a clerk for the Utah Supreme Court before beginning a 35-year career practicing constitutional law for Kirton McConkie. He has also coached youth baseball in Grantsville, coaching players who have gone on to win state titles at the high school level.