HAGEN: Glanzer should be considered state’s greatest small-town coach of all timeArmour hasn’t changed much since 1975, in Burnell Glanzer’s opinion. He moved to the town for a job, his first year out of college. He has stayed there ever since.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
Armour hasn’t changed much since 1975, in Burnell Glanzer’s opinion.
He moved to the town for a job, his first year out of college. He has stayed there ever since.
“It’s lost a little bit of population, like all small towns,” Glanzer said. “But we have some nice businesses here that help keep people in the town.”
At an athletic banquet Tuesday in Tripp, Glanzer announced his retirement from the boys’ basketball team after leading the charge for 37 years. Thirty-two of those seasons were spent as head coach of the Armour High School Packers, and the last five were with the cooperative Tripp-Delmont/Armour.
He finished with 617 wins, three state championships and 12 state tournament appearances. He’s third in state history in career wins, behind only Larry Luitjens and Gary Munsen.
Perhaps the most remarkable feat about Glanzer’s career was all of his team’s accomplishments came at the Class B level.
Some might say that winning in Class B would be considered easier than winning at the higher Class AA level. But most small-town basketball teams have a frequent run of peaks and valleys. Larger towns, with bigger pools of talent to choose from, rarely go through extended down periods. And, of course, Class B divisions have more teams competing for coveted state-tournament spots.
Glanzer’s teams, for the most part, have been winners.
“There were a couple seasons where we won only single-digit games, just like any small-town team,” he said. “But we’ve just avoided a string of them.”
Glanzer finished his career with an average of 16.68 wins per season. He won 75 percent of the games he coached in.
Another longtime small-town basketball coach, Gayle Hoover of Parker, retired after the 1992-93 season. At the time of his retirement, he was the winningest boys’ basketball coach in state history with 577 victories. He coached 34 years and averaged 13.42 wins per season. He had success, but he was never able to win a state championship, taking runner-up three times.
The way Hoover and Glanzer both stayed in one town for years is definitely something of note. Luitjens and Munsen both have at least two high school coaching stops in their careers. Munsen averaged 16.02 wins per season with the Mitchell and Marion boys’ teams, while Luitjens, an active coach at Custer, is averaging 16.43 wins per season through a career that started in De Smet.
Glanzer helped turn Armour into a powerhouse basketball program in the late 1970s and the team stayed competitive most years since. The Packers won state championships in 1978, 1979 and 1997. The last year the school was on its own in boys’ basketball, in 2007, the Packers qualified for the state tournament.
Tripp-Delmont and Armour at the time were in a cooperative in girls’ basketball and football, and the school districts started talking about joining in boys’ basketball and other sports.
Glanzer wasn’t excited about the idea. He said the idea wasn’t completely accepted in Tripp or Delmont, either.
“At the time, our numbers were such that we didn’t need help with the boys’ basketball numbers to co-op,” he said. “… When you enter a co-op before you need to, some of your kids lose some playing time. Then some people get upset. I didn’t think we should do it yet for the boys’ basketball.”
The Armour school board decided the co-op would be best for the future of the school and the districts joined forces the next year, when the Tripp-Delmont/Armour boys’ basketball team qualified for the state tournament in 2007-08. TDA also qualified again in 2010 and was one win from making the state tournament last season.
Glanzer said he’s proud of his teams’ accomplishments through his tenure in Armour, now population 782. Today, Glanzer admits the cooperative was best for the future of the schools’ athletic programs and said he wouldn’t change the past if he could.
“We’ve had a good experience with them,” he said. “At this point, looking back on it, there’s drawbacks and advantages. The advantages probably outweigh the drawbacks. We had fun with the kids and it was good to get to know the community and people.”
It’s hard to say whether the Armour High School 2008 and 2010 teams would have qualified for the two state tournaments had the squad not been in a co-op with Tripp-Delmont. Glanzer doesn’t know, either, but says he believes the school had the talent and potential to do so.
Glanzer’s success with small-town basketball helped him through the transition that created the successful cooperative, and now he should be considered the best small-town basketball coach in state history.
“Any coach will tell you, if you’re lucky enough to have a good start, and you build a reputation, you don’t get questioned as much,” he said. “Then people assume you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t.”