In the beginning with Coach Glenn Daniel

Published 3:15 pm Thursday, July 30, 2009

This is his favorite time of the year—right before Friday night football gets started.

“It never gets out of your blood to match wits with someone else on the field,” longtime Luverne head football coach Glenn Daniel said Monday.

Daniel was the guest speaker at the Luverne Rotary Club.

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“He has been such a positive influence in so many lives,” program chair Lisa S. Rolling said. “He has taught us more than just football, but he’s very humble about it.”

Daniel, who was recently inducted into the Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame, compiled a 302-167-16 record during his 51-year career at Luverne High School and Pine Hill School. In 38 years at LHS, he had only four losing seasons, and his teams made the state playoffs in 11 of his last 12 seasons, which included a state championship in 1991.

Daniel, who is 83 years young, said he studied Business Administration in college because his dad “was a Singer Sewing Machine salesman during the Depression.”

“The principal at Pine Hill lost his football coach in an automobile accident in late August,” he explained. “He needed a coach—but I had never dreamed of being a coach.”

But two things “swayed” Daniel’s decision to take the job—his wife Gladys was expecting their first child, and he was only 21 years old. So, he agreed to take the job for one year.

“I’d had no training at all at that time,” he said, “but I’d just gotten out of the military (World War II), and I thought I was something—so, I just made them do what we did in high school.”

Daniel didn’t count on one thing, however—he had 36 players in grades 7-12 that first year, and their ages ranged from 13 to 20 years old, just one year younger than himself.

“We started practicing, but nothing worked out right…we had 8 games on the road that first year; I didn’t know what I was doing, and they didn’t either,” he said laughing. “Our first game was against Evergreen—I gave the team a big fired-up speech—but Evergreen won 30-0.”

Daniel said the losing streak continued that very first year.

“We were losing 40-something to 0, and we finally scored our first touchdown in the last quarter,” he said. “People were hugging each other, blowing their car horns, and the players were holding their helmets in the air—it was something—but we still lost the game.”

That first season netted Daniel and his team two touchdowns and one win at Pine Hill.

“Somebody wrote ‘We won’ on the back of my dad’s car, and I told them not to wash it off.”

“On Thanksgiving Day that first year, me and my boys played a game against some of the boys in town,” he said. “We beat them 14-0–that did more for our boys’ confidence than anything–it shut up those talkers in town.”

Coach Daniel was named the state’s Coach of the Year three times, and he was inducted into the Alabama High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 1991. In 1987, the Luverne High School stadium was renamed in his honor.