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Glenn thrives amid adversity

Longtime Newport Harbor coach diagnosed with iris melanoma earlier this year, but has remained positive.

November 04, 2009|By Steve Virgen

For Dan Glenn to be alone, is a rare occurrence.

Or so it seems because everyone wants to be around someone who is so high on life. Look after a volleyball match at Newport Harbor High. Coach Glenn can usually be seen smiling, giving a handshake or a hug to those who approach him to talk about his team or just about what’s going on with what’s really important, his family.

Sometimes his voice is hoarse from all the shouting he unloaded during the match. But usually there’s a smile, a grin so welcoming that it almost says, you are great and you are my friend.

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It’s been this way for the past 23 years at Newport Harbor, where the gentleman coach has helped build young girls into women, boys into men, troublemakers into leaders.

Most people want to be in Glenn’s presence, but it’s not as if he wants to be alone anyhow. A husband and a father of four, a teacher and a coach of one of the top volleyball factories in the nation, Glenn will still find time to make those around him happy.

But there was a moment, a day when Glenn was grateful to be alone.

Most times, especially at an appointment with an eye doctor at UCLA, Glenn has his wife, Mary, at his side. Yet back in February, she couldn’t make it there. As a school counselor, she was needed to speak to a group of students, giving them advice for college.

But the only college that was on her mind was UCLA, actually its hospital facility.

“Mary is a worrier,” Glenn says. “But that’s what makes her such a great mother and that’s why I love her.”

If she was worried on this particular day it was with good reason.

Glenn was diagnosed with iris melanoma, a rare form of cancer in his right eye. Life could never be the same, not with the ‘C’ word around, even in Glenn’s charmed life.

When Glenn, 50, found out, he thought it was maybe best that his wife was not there. Maybe it was good that he was alone, he thought.

She would probably break down and weep. Not even his smile could stop those tears.

And what if he cried too? As it was, he was fighting back tears as he told her the disappointing news over the phone.

He had to tell her. She asked and he’s never lied to her. Well, there was that one time when their daughter, Tegan, fell down the stairs at Grandma’s house. But that was an innocent fib.

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