Published February 10. 2013 4:00AM
Ledyard - There are days Bill Glenney may not see daylight. At school by 6 a.m., helping coach wrestling in the school's windowless, basement fortress they call the "bomb shelter," not home till after prime time television programming begins.
"I'm certainly not making a lot of money," the most loyal Ledyard guy of them all was saying last week, "and I really don't care. I enjoy coming to work every day."
Ha. To think Glenney calls this work. It's more like a vocation. He is Ledyard High School's Everyman. This is what he does at his alma mater:
Bill Glenney is the head boys' soccer coach.
The assistant wrestling coach.
The assistant outdoor track and field coach.
The public address announcer for basketball, baseball and lacrosse. (Athletic director Jim Buonocore even has him mimicking former New London High public address announcer Mickey Amanti).
Chaperone on student trips.
Scorekeeper for boys' basketball road games.
Paraprofessional during the day, monitoring hallways and study halls.
And if he made a mean enough marinara, he might volunteer to cook lunch every day for the kids, too.
"Bill Glenney bleeds blue, white and arguably gold, our debatable color," wrestling coach Steve Bilheimer said. "He loves this school, he loves this town, he loves the kids here. A huge help to the school. You forget half the things he does. A reliable person you can trust doing whatever you need."
Bilheimer should know. They've spent the winter together coaching Ledyard wrestling, the state's marquee program. Walk into the gym and look at all the state championship banners. Take them off the wall and you could wallpaper Colonel Ledyard Highway. They'll be together this week at Fitch for the ECC championships and Saturday at the Class M meet.
It would be reasonable to assume that the qualifications to coach at such a program, however, would go beyond Glenney's resume.
"I came down to the bomb shelter and said to Steve, 'Hi, I've never wrestled a day in my life,''' Glenney said.
Bilheimer hired Glenney faster than the time it takes Usain Bolt to get from start to finish.
"He's a sports guy," Bilheimer said. "He's probably gone beyond what the average person would pick up. He does all the little things that take up time and aggravation."
Glenney knows the value. He is to wrestling what Dan Reilly is to him all soccer season: more valuable than a lung.
"Dan does all the stuff I don't want to do," Glenney said. "In the middle of the season, I don't want to worry about whether sweatshirts have come in the mail."
And so Glenney, recognizing the devil's details, is the guy at Ledyard High who forgoes his lunch period to wash the mats so they are ready to go for wrestling practice at 2:30.
Glenney used to be in real estate, a property manager with a company car and comfortable bank account. He discovered money's a little overrated when it comes at the cost of misery.
"Expectations got bigger, but the number of hours in the day didn't," he said "and neither did my paycheck. I got laid off, walked out of there one day and took a deep breath and smiled because I was finally stress free."
Now he works 35 hours per week at the high school, coaches countless more hours and is part of the scenery. Figure Ledyard High is in good hands with graduate Amanda Fagan as its principal and Glenney as its conscience.
"It's a lot easier to do little things when people around you appreciate it," Glenney said.
So now maybe you know why Ledyard pretty much wins everything in the ECC. Good athletes? Sure. But people walking the halls who believe in the school, town and people.
"Jim Buonocore is a freaking animal," Glenney said. "No one is here more than he is. Hours upon hours finding things to do to make us better. He's changed the way people view our athletic program."
And Glenney should change the way people view Ledyard High. He loves the place to his soul. Every school needs him. But only one has him.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.