The term legend is used much too frequently when it comes to describing coaches or players at any athletic level.
To be a legend, you must be the best of the best – an individual who not only makes an impact in the field of play, but in a person’s life.
That’s why the term legend is the only fitting synonym for Bob Glasgow, who will become the first high school wrestling coach inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in ceremonies Sunday at the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center in Independence.
His story is the stuff legends are made of. As a young kid, fresh off the campus of Northwest Missouri State University after graduating from Blue Springs High School, he took over an Oak Grove wrestling program that had five coaches in the previous 10 years and led the Panthers to the first state championship in school history.
He didn’t just win one state title over the next 25 years, the Panthers won 12 of their overall best-in-state 17 titles under Glasgow’s leadership.
Before retiring in 2009, Glasgow oversaw 68 of the program’s 86 individual state championships, including three of its four four-time state champs. Along the way, his teams were 245-39-2 in duals.
That type of success earned him a berth in the Missouri Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
“Coach Glasgow is a Hall of Famer – a Hall of Fame coach and a Hall of Fame person,” said former wrestler Bobbe Lowe, who served as Glasgow’s assistant from 2007 to 2009 and then took over the program in 2010 before leaving after last year’s record 17th team title to become the head coach at Blue Springs High School. “People just gravitate towards him. He’s very approachable, and just a great guy. He’s great with kids and other coaches and the public, in general. And he’s smart – he can talk about anything – athletics, how to be a leader, academics, you name it, he can talk about it. And you’re going to learn something every time you talk to him.
“Is he a legend? You bet he’s a legend.”
That first Oak Grove team Glasgow ever coached pulled off the unthinkable, winning the state championship on a Ronny Thomas victory that gave the Panthers 86.5 points. Second-place Seneca had 85.
“Every time I see Ronny, he reminds me of that,” joked Glasgow, who is now the executive director of the Greater Kansas City Suburban Conference. “I didn’t think about winning a state championship that first year, I just wanted to bring some stability to a program that had very little the previous 10 years.
“Growing up in Blue Springs, I had a lot of connections. And my coach, Gary Collins, was well-connected with high school and college coaches. So I had a lot of good recommendations, and they really went to bat for me.”
Glasgow had placed second at the state tournament his senior year at Blue Springs High School, and then headed off to Northwest Missouri State University, becoming a three-time NCAA Division II national tournament qualifier.
He soon married his high school sweetheart, Tammie, and the couple had two sons, Kellen and Riley, who wrestled for their father at Oak Grove.
Glasgow went on to become the head coach of USA Wrestling in 1997 (Tour De Monde in Great Britain), the 1991 USA National Freestyle team, the 1984-2004 Missouri National teams and a stint with Kansas City Kansas Community College.
He also was a six-time National Wrestling Coaches State Coach of the Year.
Glasgow credits longtime assistant coach Clif Cromer, fellow coaches at Oak Grove as well as the Oak Grove community for playing such a big role in his program’s success.
Cromer had been an assistant since 1977, the second year of the program.
“Clif was my mentor,” Glasgow said. “He probably was 11 years older than me and we coached freshman football together and wrestling together, so we got to know each other. And at first I taught in middle school and he was teaching in high school.
“We were all pretty good friends. We had football players that were wrestlers, and we had wrestlers who were football players. In a school the size of Oak Grove, you need kids to be multi-sport athletes, and we had some good ones.”
Glasgow said Sunday is going to be a special day because he can share it with so many members of his family.
“My immediate family is coming up and many members of my wrestling family are coming to the induction,” he said. “Thinking back to that first year, and to where I am today – it’s been quite a journey and I can’t thank everyone enough for their help along the way.”