If numbers help define Myron Glass, don't look at the number of girls basketball state championship teams he has coached at Rochester Lourdes High School. Or the number of teams he has taken to state tournaments. Or the state titles his teams have captured in cross-country and track.
Those numbers are indeed impressive. Under Glass the Eagles have won eight basketball titles, which is a state record he shares with Faith Johnson Patterson, formerly of Minneapolis North and currently at DeLaSalle. And Glass has coached 15 teams to state tourneys, which is the most in girls basketball history.
The numbers that really count, however, are the numbers of girls he has mentored, taught, coached and led since his career as a teacher and coach began at Lourdes in 1968. He has been the Eagles' girls basketball coach since 1983.
"He's given his life to this school," said Lourdes athletic director Marv Peters. "That's the easiest way to say it."
Glass is one of the pioneers of girls athletics in Minnesota. He helped start girls programs at Lourdes, building models for many other schools in southeastern Minnesota and around the state.
"Look at how far the young ladies have come," Glass said. "That's something that myself and others can be really proud of. Once we ran a couple meets and got more teams doing it, it just took off."
Glass may or may not retire after this season -- more on that in a moment -- but no matter when he steps down he will leave big shoes to fill. He ranks second all-time in Minnesota girls basketball victories; his 713-134 mark stands behind only New London-Spicer coach Mike Dreier's record of 799-145.
Glass coached girls and boys cross-country at Lourdes for 40 years, winning four state championships with the boys team and two with the girls. His girls track teams also won two state championships. Lourdes owns a total of 42 state team championships and Glass was the head coach for 16 of them.
"I am perplexed about replacing him," Peters said. "It's going to be tough.''
Glass is waffling just a bit on retiring. He had originally talked about ending his coaching career after the 2012-13 season, but Peters convinced him to stay on while Lourdes departed its downtown location after 71 years and moved into a sparkling new campus in northwest Rochester. Now, in the midst of the 2013-14 season, Glass won't absolutely, positively confirm that he will retire at season's end. But it appears that he will.
He laughed when I asked him about retiring, saying that is the likely scenario "unless Marv talks me out of it, like he did last year."
Little has changed over the years. Glass still wears a wristwatch calculator, befitting a math teacher; he also taught social studies before retiring from teaching several years ago. He also still prepares some of the most detailed scouting reports of any high school coach in any sport. He puts together seven- or eight-page packets for each of his players to study before every game.
Glass has coached young athletes who grew up and had children, and then he coached the second generation. As he put it,"You have kids who you held as a baby, because you coached and taught their parents, then you're coaching them when they're 16, 17 years old."
Martha Macken, a Lourdes player in the 1980s, wishes Glass would stick around long enough to coach her fifth-grade daughter, Sydney Elliott, and hand her some of those famous scouting reports.
"The thing about Mr. Glass is he knows the team that you're playing. We know their offense and their defense before we play them. He's very prepared," said Macken, who made one of the biggest baskets in Lourdes history, a buzzer-beater that lifted the Eagles past Wheaton 33-31 in the 1987 state title game.
"Mr. Glass has really created a foundation here, and a legacy," Macken said. "He's built these programs. When I grew up we didn't have all the leagues and everything that they currently have, and it's due to him. He put in a lot of time and effort. He's a fixture at the school."
At both the old school and the new school, Glass is the person who opens the gym doors in the morning and locks up the place at night. He sweeps the floor, he mends uniforms, he runs summer basketball camps, he even runs the clock for ninth-grade girls basketball games.
"He's here every weekend," Peters said. "Every Saturday, and he comes in on Sunday. The thing about Myron is that there are so many layers, but every layer connects back to the school. It's been his vocation.
"I think he's one of the gentlest, kindest guys around. He really makes it all about the kids. He deflects so much; he deflects praise, he deflects congratulations. He deflects all those things, he's so old-school."
Glass' success as a coach is remarkable because he didn't play the game. He was cut from the basketball team at Minneapolis South and worked his way through St. Cloud State as a non-athlete, working at a gas station in Minneapolis during summers, weekends and holidays. After graduating, he interviewed for teaching jobs at Albany, at a Minneapolis junior high and Lourdes. The first offer came from Lourdes and he happily accepted.
Now 46 years later, as a lifelong bachelor in his late 60s, he is pondering a transition to a post-coaching lifestyle.
"That's the hard part about deciding on retirement," he said. "What do you do? Being a single guy you don't have that 'honey do' list that the married guys have. The mind is no problem, it's the body that as you get older has a little trouble keeping up. I'm probably looking forward to a knee replacement and stuff like that."
When Glass retired as a classroom teacher, he began working as a scheduling coordinator at Lourdes. As any administrator knows, putting together schedules for classes, teachers, students and classrooms can be a tedious, difficult process. And that's right up the coach's alley.
"He's just been a whiz at that because of his math skills," Peters said. "Even if basketball comes to an end, I really hope we can keep him on as our scheduler and helping in the guidance department."
Glass has not only taught and coached generations of athletes at Lourdes, he also has had a major impact on other coaches at Lourdes and southeastern Minnesota.
"I'm sure he stole or figured out everything he did, and now he's the most copied coach around," Peters said. "Everybody in this area who's successful does what he does. It's unbelievable. That's the best form of flattery."
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 259
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 6,855
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn