Our community lost another of our longtime, legendary sports officials over the weekend and appropriately he was laid to rest today in his black and white striped uniform.
While guys like “B.B.” Burns, Rico Blair and the late Larry Sells had distinctive showman styles to their calls, Glenn had a more low-key authority on the local football and softball fields, as well as the basketball courts, for almost half a century.
Although he was well able to use the extra passion sometimes needed in officiating to get your point across, many of his games went by without him being noticed, which is the goal of any good official.
“He was always pretty calm, but when something would get him riled up, his bottom lip would start to quiver and he’d stutter a little bit. That was when whoever was arguing with him better watch out,” related longtime fellow official Tom Rumba during Sunday evening’s viewing.
One of the many stories his fellow officials related last night involved him stopping a football game over in Polk County and throwing out Wildcat assistant coach John Dixon, who was setting in the pressbox. It seems Dixon’s disagreement with some of the calls was being expressed loud enough for Glenn to hear them on the field.
Coming from that uncanny pool of local officials that worked together at Hardwick and Magic Chef, Glenn worked with guys like “Shorty” Jordan, Paul Blackwell, his uncle James Curtis, Burns and Blair both in the factory and on the field.
When my longtime friend Greg Geren got me into umpiring softball back in the mid 1980s, Glenn and his wife Sharon were key leaders in the local ASA association.
As the assignor, Glenn would make sure for those first couple of years that I was paired with veteran umpires, including himself, who could show me the ropes and help me develop my skills on the diamond.
As the local ASA assignor now, I still employ some of the things I learned from him in performing those duties.
He was a great example for a young official to emulate — very professional, always on the ball and never in less than a perfect uniform. Calling numerous ASA national tournaments, as well as TSSAA district and region tournaments and playoffs, Glenn was very well respected among his fellow officials and by the area coaches.
“He always did a good job for us (at Polk County),” commented longtime Wildcat head football coach Larry Davis as we stood in line together last evening to pay our respects. “He knew the games and was very fair in his calling. I called a lot of games with him. He was a good guy.”
I got a chance to visit with Glenn at a Bradley Central football game last fall as he was running the clock on the sideline with the officiating crew. We talked about old times and got caught up a little on the years that had past.
“Not this past winter, but he had come back and called some basketball for me in the last few years just to get some exercise,” explained Geren, who is a local basketball assignor. “He’s one of my favorites. I could still talk to him about problems I was having and get some good advice.”
While waiting in line, Davis and I had the same reaction to a large photo of Glenn atop a beautiful Tennessee Walking horse in a Shelbyville show.
Neither of us knew he rode in competitions, but seeing him in the regal riding suit seemed very fitting.
Glenn had a very professional officiating way about him. Not overbearing, but when he was on the field, you knew he was in charge. A man in stripes that protected the integrity of the game.
You will be missed greatly my friend, but what you have taught to hundreds of us whom you tutored will be passed on to another generation of sports officials coming behind us.