Coach crosses finish line in career
After 14 years as the head track coach at the University, Harvey Glance will step down at the end of the season. To truly appreciate everything that Glance has brought to track and field, it is important to not only focus on the end of his career, but also remember the beginning.
Harvey Glance has always been fast. He has known it ever since he was a 7-year-old child on the elementary school playground.
“I found out I had speed in recess,” Glance said. “So, I ended up racing everybody almost every day. I understood at that time, with me defeating everybody, that I had a good chance of having success.”
Pretty soon, people started to recognize that the young kid from Phenix City had the tools to be something special. Glance said he remembers running on the side of the road one day when he was stopped by his high school driver’s ed teacher, Joe Henderson.
When Henderson asked Glance who he was training with, the young runner replied no one. At that moment Henderson decided to take him under his wing. Henderson did not have a great knowledge of track and field, however, he knew he had a rare talent in Glance.
“He didn’t know anything about track and field,” Glance said. “But he had read some books on it and he studied up and eventually we made a good partnership.”
At that point Glance had everything he needed to become a successful runner; all he needed was a dream. The 1972 Olympics proved to be just that. As Glance watched athletes compete under the Olympic torch, a fire within him was lit.
Over the next four years Glance trained and trained hard. Glance said he still remembers the tedious hills and long intervals, as well as waking up early to run, in any weather.
Glance got his shot in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. The 19-year-old standout from Auburn University ran the opening leg of the 4x100 meter relay and helped lead the U.S. to a gold medal. For Glance, the moment he dreamed and worked so hard for had finally arrived.
“The gold medal represents the best,” he said. “Obviously, I feel a tremendous amount of pride and joy accomplishing that, because I thought back on all the hard work and dedication over a four-year period of time.”
Running, however, tells only half of Glance’s contributions to track and field. Glance later realized that he could use his talents not only to better himself, but also to help others succeed. Although he has always been a leader, Glance first realized his true coaching potential while training in Arizona.
“I volunteered as a coach at a high school, and I took over a relay team that I thought was struggling in practice one day when I was out there,” he said. “I took that team and we won a state championship, so I knew then I had the tools to be a good coach.”
Since coming to the University in 1997, Glance has coached 75 All-Americans, 41 Southeaster Conference Champions, eight NCAA champions and 23 of his athletes have broken school records.
Despite his success, it might be Glance’s character that will be missed the most. Glance’s warm and energetic personality has become a mainstay for the Tide over the years.
“I think the biggest quality he has is his positive outlook,” cross-country head coach Joe Walker said. “He is just always upbeat. He’s a great motivator and just a real pleasant guy to be around.”
Part of Glance’s success in coaching is how he views his team. Glance said he considers his team family and that when athletes come to the University, they feel like his children.
“I think he is just the perfect coach,” sophomore runner Kirani James said. “Not just in practice, but in what he can teach you about life, helping you mature and everything like that.”
Glance’s personality has also helped him land some of the top recruits in both the nation and world. James, last season’s outdoor 400-meter champion, was one of the top recruits in the nation upon graduating high school. The Grenada native still remembers the trip Glance made to his hometown and lists it as one of the main reasons why he felt comfortable choosing Alabama.
“When he came down to visit me, he was just so natural,” James said. “He was just being himself and I just liked that about him. I liked his personality, and as my coach today, he is still the same.”
Though Glance will be turning a new page in his coaching career, his time with the Tide will not be forgotten.
“I’ll miss the people,” Glance said. “It’s been one heck of a ride; there has been some tremendous support from some people in the athletic department that I will never forget.”