Former NBA Player and Broadcaster, Mike Glenn, talks about his first encounters with Sign Language
After mom and dad graduated from Alabama State College in Montgomery, Alabama, they moved to Cave Spring, Ga. Mom taught public school at Fairview and E.S. Brown elementary school, and dad accepted a teaching and coaching position at Georgia School for the Deaf. Since dad had played high school basketball at Randolph County Training School, he volunteered to coach basketball, softball, and track for males and females. Coaching Black teams of deaf athletes in the segregated South in the 1950s and 1960s had many challenges and disadvantages. Often times on long road trips, the bus driver would have a difficult time finding a restroom for "Colored" people. And there was no money in the budget to pay dad for his efforts. The principal, Mr. Eugene Perdue, was a respected and dedicated community leader. He kindly told dad at the end of each year, "thank you Coach Glenn; you did a good job." Mr. Perdue allowed dad to take me on road trips, and he made the gym available to me any time.
Dad introduced me to two of his favorite players, Mildred Nelson and Lois Smiley. Nelson was the best player on his team and the best player in the history of Georgia School for the Deaf. She was a beautiful girl with smooth, dark chocolate skin and a deadly jump shot. Mildred Nelson was my first hero! Smiley was another good player but a much better student. As a former mathematics major in college and a math teacher, dad appreciated his inspired math wiz. Smiley was brilliant and so far advanced over her classmates that dad tutored her individually. After graduating form G.S.D., Lois graduated from the nation's only college for deaf students, Gallaudet University with a B.A. degree. Dad was very proud of his two stars. I know carry that pride and love and share this legacy.
There were also male players who became my basketball role models. Arthur Phelps, Woodrow Wilkerson, James Anderson, Howard Sidwell, Harvey King, and Frank Crowley were my friends and teachers. I was saddened to hear that my deaf friends never got a chance to go to a basketball camp. I developed the desire to start a basketball camp for deaf kids. The seed was planted!
The Origin of the Camp
While playing for the New York Knicks in 1980, I received a special request to attend a basketball tournament for local deaf schools. Between games of the tournament, I communicated to the audience in sign language. A quiet stillness fell over the crowd as they stared in shock at a pro basketball player who knew sign language. After I told Superintendent Henry Bjorlie and basketball coach Dennis Tobin of my desire to start a basketball camp strictly for deaf athletes, they offered me the use of their gym. On July 7th 1980, the nation's first major basketball camp for deaf athletes was born. My best friend, Reggie Johnson, came from Cave Spring, Georgia to New York to help me organize and run the camp. He continued to assist me each year until his untimely death in the year 2000. After joining the Atlanta Hawks in 1981, I started a southern version of the Mike Glenn Camp in Decatur, Georgia. Countless sponsors, volunteers, professional athletes, and media personalities have donated their passion, time, efforts, money, and energy to make the camp successful. I am grateful of everyone who has made my dream a part of their reality.
Thank You, Mike Glenn
Please make your contributions to: Mike Glenn Foundation P.O.Box
390313 Snellville, GA. 30039-0313 I appreciate your support.
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Thursday, April 5, 2007 6:57 PM
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