From the early years of John Gloege’s 33 years as a teacher and coach in Princeton, a story made the rounds about the time Gloege took the high school basketball team to his hometown of Glenwood for a scrimmage at Christmas break.
As the story goes, Gloege joked with his players that, “No, the G in the middle of the floor doesn’t stand for Gloege.”
It was good for a laugh then, but now the school will be giving him a special honor.
On Sept. 20, Gloege will be inducted into the school’s initial class of its hall of fame.
A 1974 graduate of Glenwood High School (now Minnewaska High School, with Starbuck and Villard included), Gloege still holds the school scoring record in basketball with 1,589 points.
He earned 16 letters there, participating in baseball, track and golf in the spring of his sophomore year.
“I didn’t make many practices that year,” he said.
He was an all-conference performer seven times, three each in basketball and baseball.
Gloege then enrolled at St. Cloud State University, planning to play basketball, but a medical condition kept him from that and he went out for the baseball team. He ended up lettering three times and played on conference championship teams with some players from Princeton.
Then he came to Princeton in the fall of 1979 and taught and coached here until October 2012.
Gloege was head basketball coach for 15 years and had two stints of playing for the town baseball team.
He was the junior varsity baseball coach for 11 years, coached ninth-grade football and middle school volleyball, was head golf coach for about 12 years and has been with the golf program here for about 20 years, where he is now an assistant.
Gloege was also the Legion baseball coach for 19 years, following in the footsteps of the legendary Howard Solheim, and compiled a record of 379-237, as well as a record of 43-12 in playoff games. His teams had unbeaten streaks of 47 and 34 in league games and his teams had a 74-24 record from 1981 through 1983.
In a Union-Eagle story about his retirement from the Legion job, Gloege said he wanted to devote more time to golf. And two years later he won the men’s title at Princeton Golf Club.
Eighteen years ago a player he had coached in basketball and Legion baseball, Brian Dorr, contacted him about refereeing together in basketball.
“I remember him coming to talk about it at the old middle school and we sent out some letters,” Gloege said last week. “We had eight games that first year and it built to 22 and then to 35.”
Gloege has now refereed in many state basketball tournaments, refereed high school football for 18 years, officiated volleyball the past eight years and has umpired slow pitch softball for many years.
Golf has taken over as his biggest passion, and he plays at many courses around Minnesota, as well as taking winter trips to play in warmer climates.
Labeled a perfectionist by many of his former players, and by those with whom he plays golf, he was known as a hard worker in Glenwood as a youth.
Dave Moe, a friend from Glenwood who nominated Gloege for the hall of fame, saw Gloege’s dedication at an early age. Moe, three years older than Gloege, would walk to middle school basketball practice.
“He was in fourth grade and I’d see him out in the driveway shooting baskets,” Moe said. “I was impressed. I can’t imagine how many baskets he shot.”
Bill Neuenfeldt, now of Fort Smith, Arkansas, was Gloege’s catcher on Legion and town team baseball teams and also played against him in college.
“He had what we call stick-to-it-iveness,” Neuenfeldt said last week. “And the guy was as versatile a player as I’ve ever played with. He could play any position.”
Jack Stackpool, a member of the basketball coaches hall of fame in Minnesota, was Gloege’s high school coach.
“When I went from Foley to Glenwood, we started an elementary basketball program and John was in sixth grade,” Stackpool said. “He stood out immediately.
“He was very skillful and very dedicated. He was a gym rat – first on the floor and last off.”
Stackpool noted that there was no three-point rule when Gloege played, saying his point total would have been even higher.
“And what a fine young man he was,” he said. “What a role model for young athletes.”
One basketball season in high school Gloege and future University of Minnesota star and professional player Mark Olberding went at it for the conference scoring title, Gloege barely losing out late in the season.
“He was so competitive … but not in a bad way,” Moe said about Gloege.
Moe and Gloege ended up rooming together in college at St. Cloud State.
“I was kind of like an older brother,” Moe said. “I think his mother liked it that I was his roommate.
“We played a lot of poker and ate a lot of House of Pizza pizza. I think we ate pizza from that place seven straight nights one year.”
Moe will introduce Gloege the night of Sept. 20 at the Lakeside Ballroom in Glenwood.
“It’s something I will be proud to do,” he said.
Gloege said it will be a night to remember.
“It will be wonderful,” he said. “It’s a special place, the place where I grew up and where I watched those good basketball teams of the middle ‘60s play. Those guys were my heroes.
“I’ll feel very honored.”
Having said that, Gloege headed to the golf course in Princeton, pursuing a passion for that sport that has deepened in his retirement years.
By all accounts, he had that same passion for playing and coaching, extending from Glenwood to St. Cloud State to Princeton, a passion that has earned him a place in his hometown’s hall of fame.