Laughter and tears intertwined while many reminisced during a special tribute for a one-of-a-kind coach Saturday night. Everyone at Anne Yardley Caldwell's home came to honor Dan Glenn for his 25 years and 50 seasons of coaching boys' and girls' volleyball at Newport Harbor High.
Many spoke with great fondness of memories, talking about all the greatness, and comedy and lessons that unfolded throughout the years. And while they spoke of the past, more memories were being created during this one special night for Danny Glenn. This certainly wasn't any type of retirement party. He's in his 25th year and ready to coach some more.
This week there are Sunset League matches against Edison and Huntington Beach. Glenn will try to keep his boys' team undefeated in league play. But Saturday night, strategies and scouting reports were left at the office.
It was time to pay attention to each speaker that came to the microphone. They each had something different, something funny and something poignant to say about Glenn.
The coach known to bring out the best in his players also somehow brought out the best in those who spoke about him throughout the night.
Friends, fellow coaches and former players talked about the coach who has molded young men and women into champions.
He has coached girls' teams to seven CIF section titles and five CIF state championships, and guided boys' teams to two CIF section titles.
He also taught these kids to become men and women, to contribute to their communities. Not just to become star athletes, but to put forth their best at whatever they set out to do — to be the best parent, doctor or teacher.
Rob Espero, a Harbor alumnus who announces matches each year, served as the emcee of a meaningful program of speakers during the tribute.
Charlie Brande, the longtime club volleyball director who coached at Harbor, Corona del Mar and UC Irvine, opened the program. One great man spoke about another great man. They are friends who at one time competed against each other. Both are known for being stern coaches who push their players to succeed.
At first Brande thought he would have to follow Larry Hirst, the Newport Harbor boys' basketball coach who is a smooth talker and can deliver a punch line with the best of them.
But Brande spoke first, and it was fitting. Somehow everything seemed to fall into place during Glenn's tribute.
Even when former player and now oncologist Amin Mirhadi called the Newport Harbor coach Dr. Glenn, it somehow made sense, because Glenn had found so many cures to problems throughout the years with the Sailors.
Even when Glenn is faced with adversity, the upbeat coach responds with something positive. Some of the money raised from his own tribute went to the John Wayne Cancer Foundation. Glenn has iris melanoma, a rare form of cancer in his right eye.
If Glenn maintains his healthy lifestyle and continues to visit the eye doctor for periodic checkups, that will help avoid the risk of the cancer from spreading.
While he does that, Glenn also wants to donate to the cause to help others, too.
That's Danny. That altruism is a facet of the legendary coach. It's one of the many attributes that people like pro beach volleyball player April Ross and Fullerton College volleyball coach Eddie Rapp spoke about. You could sense all that embodied Glenn when former player Jeanette Hecker cried toward the end of her speech as she thanked the coach who meant so much to her.
It was funny when Hecker told the story about how she made Glenn so angry once that he retaliated by hurling a volleyball at her head. But it was a lot more serious when she talked about when her mother passed away and how Glenn and Brande basically adopted Hecker and her sisters.
Glenn's character could also be seen in Ross, who began as a diamond-in-the-rough-type project and is now one of the top players in the world.
Ross spoke about the fear she had as a freshman to play on the varsity for Glenn. But she also touched on the gratefulness she has for playing for Glenn and learning so many valuable lessons. When Ross was a senior, Glenn gave her a quote, as he does with all his players, to take with her as she left Newport Harbor.