“Mr. SPU,” with John Glancy
As a student, John Glancy '70 served as a two-sport athlete and a double major scholar. After graduation, he spent most of his career within the Seattle Pacific University community, holding no less than six distinct roles, including two director positions. He is affectionately known as "Mr. SPU" and now, though retired, John has a new project that will serve the university for years to come.
Amanda Stubbert: I can’t imagine how many students, staff, and faculty you have interacted with over the course of your lifetime. But I can just imagine that you have a lot of people who you call “friend” listening to us right now.
John Glancy: Well, I hope so. At least one. You’re here.
Amanda: At least one. Yes, I will tell my story. My very first post-undergraduate job after I graduated from SPU, John was my boss. So I got to work in the Office of Communications with him so many years ago. And he was a really great boss, John. I wish you were everyone’s first boss.
John: Thank you.
Amanda: Well, let’s start back at the beginning. I’ve heard you say that coming to SPU as a student was a foregone conclusion. Why is that?
John: Well, when I think back, my father got me involved, so to speak, at the beginning or near the beginning because he was an avid supporter of SPU athletics. And he’d take me to track meets and to basketball games. And our house was adjacent to Queen Anne Bowl where Falcons held their track meets and played their baseball games. Later, the tennis courts were built there. So I can hardly remember … In fact, I can’t remember a time where I wasn’t in proximity to some type of SPU athletic or otherwise event. I also had a lot of relatives who went to Seattle Pacific. And my uncle, Paul Rosser, was a speech professor there for more than 30 years. So I had and have had just a ton of experience with people and the University activities and everything that surrounds that.
Amanda: Does that mean it made SPU a very safe place to come to? Or was it one of those pushbacks like, “Oh, do I really want to go where I know so many people?”
John: Well, that’s a good question. I think, again, a lot this that I’m going to say today revolve around athletics, but I was recruited to play basketball and run track there. And Les Habegger and Ken Foreman were the coaches. And so that interaction that I had with them over time … And they were very persuasive and just a lot of different things that we don’t have time to go into now, that kind of all came together. SPU just felt like the place to be. And that’s what ended up happening.
Amanda: John, I’ve heard an interesting story about both coaches standing side-by-side, recruiting you while you were in the hospital. Is that right?
John: Well, that is correct. The night before my senior year in high school, I came down with appendicitis. And so the first day of when I was supposed to be at school, I was getting operated on. While I was in the hospital and recovering, as good recruiters, both coaches, Habegger and Foreman, came to visit me. Which was very nice, except if you know those two gentlemen, they are not above trying to create a little havoc with telling jokes and that type of thing. And it was so funny and my side hurt so much because I was trying not to laugh that day. It was nice that they came, but I was happy to see them leave.
“The night before my senior year in high school, I came down with appendicitis. And so the first day of when I was supposed to be at school, I was getting operated on.”
Amanda: So whoever made you laugh least, you were going to join that team?
John: Yeah, that’s probably the case.
Amanda: So I know it’s probably like picking one of your children, but which was your favorite: track or basketball?
John: It’s interesting you use that metaphor, that’s just what I was going to say, it’s like picking one of your children. And realistically, both my kids have different things that I like about them, but I love them both. And that’s sort of the same way with what I had with basketball and track. I’ve often thought what would happen if I’d have done this or that without the other. And there was just too many good things and experiences that come uniquely to a particular sport that I’m glad that I kept both of them and I would do the same all over again.
Amanda: And I can imagine that the cross-training before that was really such a big deal, was actually very helpful in being successful in both sports?
John: Not so much, because the tough part was … Running, helping basketball, yes. It gets you in shape and that type of thing. But when basketball season was over, I think Coach Foreman gave me a couple of days to recuperate before I got out on the track. But the track season back then really was so short, so brief that it was just tough to get into track shape, so to speak. And so the basketball season really didn’t help as much in that sense. And if I look back on it, that would be the only reason I might want to just focus on track, is that today the athletes, they usually focus on one sport and they do it all year around. And the results usually reflect that kind of involvement, but that’s not the way it was back then.
Amanda: Well, it doesn’t appear as if it really hampered you too much since you still hold records. You want to tell us about your records?
John: Well, if you twist my arm, there’s one record that still stands. It’s called a 4 x 100 relay. And my teammates were Glenn Miller, Jim Hillier, and Roger Hanson. And each of us ran … back then, actually, we ran up about a hundred yards, but in meters now they have adjusted the time. But we went to the national NCAA meet in 1968 and set the record then. And it just has stood the test of time for a variety of reasons, but it was a lot of fun running with them, the team passing the baton, and that type of thing. And so it is gratifying to know that it still stands.
Amanda: What are some of your other favorite memories of traveling and competing as an athlete?
John: Well, I’ve been privileged to be able to, as I was counting them up, be on five different Christian athlete sports teams, probably one of the most memorable … they’re all memorable for different reasons, but one that happened in 1988 was I decided that I wanted to take SPU athlete alums overseas on a basketball trip. I had been fortunate to do that earlier on, on a different team. So I really wanted SPU athletes to have that opportunity because to that point, not that many had been involved in those kinds of teams, some here and there. But we took 12 athletes to the Far East, and we went to Taiwan and Singapore and Malaysia and played games against local teams and then shared at our testimonies and gave a little halftime show and passed out literature and that type of thing. And just generally helped out where we could. We did a lot of clinics, as well.
“I decided that I wanted to take SPU athlete alums overseas on a basketball trip. I had been fortunate to do that earlier on, on a different team. So I really wanted SPU athletes to have that opportunity.”
So that was one of the most gratifying things that I’ve been involved with. I was going to tell you one other quick story. In 1968, I went on a team with some guys from all over the country, most from Christian colleges, but Christians, for sure. And we went to Mexico and it was an Olympic year and we would run against the different teams in cities up and down the coast in Mexico. And we traveled by bus, I should put that in. So it was a very low-budget experience. No four star hotels or five. So anyway, we pulled into a town called Topeak, it was on the west coast of Mexico. And it was dinner time. And all I can say is I shouldn’t have eaten the lettuce, because the whole team the next day came down with dysentery and I was in bed all day and it was just … gave the whole new meaning to running.
So I was just really sick. And anyway, I found that it’s really tough to train and compete when you’re that … We had no choice because when you’re on a mission trip, that’s what you’re there for, so you got to do it if it’s at all possible. So anyway, we worked through that, traveled on down south to Mexico City where there’s going to be a big pan-American kind of meet, pre-Olympic meet. And I was in my hotel room and lo and behold, I got hit again with this Montezuma’s revenge kind of thing. And I was very discouraged and I was just sitting there wondering, “Well, shoot. What’s going to happen? I’m not going to be able to run, and blah, blah, blah.” So while I sat there, I said, “Well, I’m going to open my Bible and I’m going to just do one of those, put my finger there and see what it says.”
And this is what it said in 2 Corinthians 12:9. It said, “But he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” And I felt like it was really quite a spiritual experience for me because it was like God speaking directly to me that his strength was more than my weakness, for sure. So I didn’t get to run in the big meet in Mexico City and we did OK. But I’ll never forget … I can’t remember how I did it specifically, but I’ll never forget that Bible verse and that time and how I felt God spoke to me.
Amanda: That’s wonderful, and really speaks to how I’ve known you. And that’s just quietly going about what needs to be done and asking for God’s grace and help along the way. So here you are competing in multiple sports on your way to becoming a Hall of Fame SPU athlete. But you did attend some classes, as well, while you were at SPU. A business and an English major at the same time. Every alum I think I’ve ever spoken with has a memory of a professor, something that a professor said or something they were taught, that they have relied on and thought about many, many times since their time as a student. Do you have one of those stories, as well?
John: Well, when I think back … I had great memories of my professors. People like Fan Gates and Roy Swanstrom, Mendel Miller, Jim Chapman, Bill Hanson, and many others. But as far as a particular quote, I’d have to turn back to basketball. Our team had played at Central Washington in Ellensburg, and we had lost the game in the closing seconds and Coach Habegger was very upset. We didn’t really protect the lead at the end and so we didn’t do like we wanted to. So we were a little worried about what was going to happen in practice the next day. And so the team assembled in the gym and we are sitting on the bleachers waiting for him to come out, to enter the gym. He was in his office and he did this, I’m sure, intentionally just to make us sweat.
And so we waited there and while we were waiting we were a little anxious and we probably were talking back and forth, well, the assistant coach, his name was Lorin Miller, he looked at us and he said, “I can tell you guys are scared.” And he says, “Well, look. Ask yourself this: What can he do to you? What’s the worst thing he can do to you? And then when you get that in your head, just attack it. Just do it. It’s like Nike.” He says, “Just do it. Don’t worry about it. Just do it.” And interestingly, I’ve used that many times in my career, in life, where we approached something that looks like it’s fearful or something that I need to be, might be scared of or apprehensive of or whatever, that sometimes you just have to step up and do it and then things work out like they work out. But that was good advice that he gave us.
Amanda: I like that. I think we have all experienced where the anxiety about the thing is so much worse than the thing itself. So just go there in your mind and get it done and maybe ask for a little grace along the way.
John: That’s a good thing, yes.
Amanda: So after you graduated from college, did you intend to make so much of your career at SPU?
John: No, I did not. In fact, I had no clue that would happen. In fact, I even went and left probably three times, and that was one reason that I feel that I was called to SPU, was I kept trying to get away, but it kept coming back. But when I was a senior at SPU, come springtime, I didn’t know what I was going to do. And then I got a call from Lee Gehrig, the new director of Admissions. And he asked me, “Hey, how’d you like to travel the world and recruit for SPU?” And so that sounded really good. He said, “Yeah, you’ll go to Hawaii and you’ll go to California and you’ll go to different places.” Well, I never did get to go to Hawaii, but I did go to the other places. And it turned out to be just a great introduction to the University, and that laid the groundwork for what would follow in later years.
“He asked me, ‘Hey, how’d you like to travel the world and recruit for SPU?'”
Amanda: Well, can you run us through some of those positions? And then I’m really curious to know which of those positions do you feel allowed you the most growth?
John: Of course, I started out in Undergraduate Admissions, and then came back after being away a little while in what was then called College Relations, which is the forerunner of University Relations and Advancement now. But I worked in College Relations as a kind of a publications person. And then ultimately that was kind of their trajectory, so probably 25 years or so I was in the communications arm of the University and we dealt with the publications and the media relations, special events, that of course, Amanda, you were involved with.
So I did those things, came home, gosh, I think it was 2003. I decided, “You know, I might want to do something different. I wonder if there’s anything that I could do here yet at the University.” And lo and behold, there was an opening that they hadn’t been able to fill as a director of Graduate Admissions. I said, “Well, shoot. I’ve had admissions experience and I’ve been to graduate school. So this sounds like it’s a pretty good deal.” So anyway, I did that for 10 years. And then the president, Dan Martin, at the end of that, we were approaching our 125th anniversary celebration. And so he asked me to oversee the activities and plan the activities for that for the institution that would culminate in 2016-17. So that’s what I ended up doing and that was when I retired.
Amanda: Which I have to say was amazing for me, because for that last year, your office was two doors down from mine. So I got to have my first professional role with you as my boss and your last full-time role at SPU right down the hall. So I consider that pretty full circle for me.
John: It was great to be down there with you and with everybody else. And I do miss that now, but it was really a good time. You’re right.
Amanda: Well, looking back over all the different positions, two different sides of admissions, and all sorts of communications, is there something specific that you feel really helped you become who you are today?
John: Well, let’s see. Who I am today … we’re all shaped by experiences and we’re all shaped by individuals, and I’ve been very fortunate to have just very creative and influential and godly supervisors, let’s call them, because they’re all different kinds. All the way from, not just my direct supervisor, but some of the vice presidents and, of course, presidents I worked with. And those experiences with them definitely shaped me. There’s a couple of people I’m thinking of, in particular, who I admired greatly and still do. And they were really mentors to me as I went through the different phases of my career. So it’s really the people that, I think, made the difference at SPU.
Amanda: Well, let’s segue to your current project. I know during the 125th anniversary celebration, you published an SPU history book. But now, even post-retirement, you’ve been very busy working on a new book. So tell me all about that.
John: The idea for this originated with Wes Lingren, emeritus faculty member in chemistry, and he had been working on a history of Seattle Pacific athletics. And he came to me when I was in the director of the 125th and said, “Hey, we should publish a book about SPU athletics for this 125th.” So try and make this long story short, it was a great idea. We wrote up a proposal, etc., but the University said, “Eh, great idea, but we don’t have the funds to support this at this point.” And as it turned out, donors stepped forward who learned about the project. And in fact, I’ll tell you, his name is Howard Call, and he’s been just so instrumental in this. And so anyway, he was able to help us get going and we did a little bit of a fundraising campaign. And then over the life of this project, which has gone beyond the 125th, because it just was in hindsight way too big to get done on a part-time basis.
“Hey, we should publish a book about SPU athletics for this 125th.”
So it’s been going on now for, oh man, probably five years, at least. And we are now to the point of just about ready … I actually turned in some of the final corrections today, and so I’m really looking forward to having it published. We’re looking to publish it on Amazon so anyone can buy it, buy a book through Amazon. And so we’re looking forward to that. And I also need to … I mentioned Howard, I need to mention one other person, alumna Jean Porter, who helped us out financially toward the end. So we had Howard at the beginning and Jean at the end that allowed us to actually get to where we are today.
Amanda: Well, I’m sure there are so many, such as yourself, who have spent so much time with SPU athletics so that the history and the scope is very, very interesting. But even to those who haven’t been involved for as long a time, I hear there’s just some amazing stories. Can you share a couple of those with us?
John: Basically, just a quick overview, we have the origins of SPU athletics starting from 1933, up to about 1950. And then we have each academic year from 1950-51 through 2016-17, we selected three kind of key stories that a group of us decided were appropriate for each of those years. So you’ve got those stories going on. We also have some individual anecdotes about teams and specific players and dates and different things like that going on. So there’s a lot going on in that section. And then we end up with some appendices that actually gave us an overview of each individual sport that we have had … varsity sport, I should say, that we have had at Seattle Pacific with their accompanying records and individual and teams statistics, etc., etc. Plus a few more things that are kind of fun things that people will just have to look at.
So as far as particular stories, I have a couple of things to say. One is there was a guy who played in the 60s, basketball it was, and his name was Rod Anchedda. And as high school kids, we’d go to the games and we’d watch these games and we saw Rod. And he was a very interesting … He was a guard, not particularly fast, but very, very tricky. He was an extremely good passer, one of these guys that could look one way and pass the ball the other way to somebody going in for a lay-in. But in one game, he got a technical foul. And the reason he got the technical foul is that he was called for a foul and he had the ball in his hand and he turned around and he flipped the ball back to the referee without looking at him. And I recall a technical foul and you would have to know Rod.
He had kind of … well, these days we’d call it an attitude. But it wasn’t offensive, but it was definitely a style. He had a particular style … and, of course, we all loved it as kids. When I think of that, I smile because watching him do those type of things was great. But again, we talked about the people at SPU, the people and the athletes are really the stars of this book. We have a lot of pictures in it and for me, I see pictures for example, of my good friend, Steve Golf, whom we just lost last weekend due to a heart condition. And so now I look at the book with new eyes, and I see his picture and it really reminds me of my experiences with him and similar with all the other people. To be able to see people we knew when we were there and competed, is what really makes the book meaningful.
Amanda: Sounds like something that you should buy for your student athlete, or if your parent was an athlete, or certainly if you were part of any of the teams along the way. I think it’s always just so meaningful to see your accomplishments in context, because we don’t really see that while we’re doing it, do we? We have to wait a minute and then look back, so I think this is going to be very meaningful to a lot of people. So thank you, John, for working on this project for so long.
John: You bet.
Amanda: But let me end with our favorite last question that we ask all of our guests. If you could have everyone in Seattle do one thing differently, starting tomorrow, that’s going to make the world a better place, what would you have us all do?
John: I think one of the key words is civility. And if we could all be more civil to each other, I think that would be a great start. It’s the Golden Rule, for sure, that kind of thing, but that word, civility, jumped out at me as I watch TV and see what happens politically and such. We just need to be more kind and polite to each other.
Amanda: Yeah. Because how will we ever find where we have common ground if we can’t have the conversation?
Amanda: Well, I will say that if I was picking adjectives that describe John Glancy, civility would be there. So you will be our model, Mr. SPU, Mr. Glancy.
John: That’s hard to live up to, but thank you.
Amanda: I think you already have. So I’m going to end with our prayer of blessing. May the Lord bless you and all you put your hand to. May the Lord be gracious to you and all who hear your story. May he bring unity to our community. Peace and stability to us all. Amen. Thank you, John.
John: Thank you very much, Amanda.